The Tulsa Shock had what just about any relocated franchise would love – a returning team that had contended for the Eastern Conference championship in the WNBA the year before. However, two important Tulsa players have stated – either to the press or through their agent – that they will not be coming to Tulsa.
The first player is point guard Katie Smith. She said on December 3rd that she didn’t want to finish her career in Tulsa. There’s nothing hostile or even strange about this – Smith was playing professional basketball before the WNBA started, as a member of the Columbus Quest of the old American Basketball League in the 1996-97 season. (The WNBA started in 1997; Smith didn’t make the jump until the ABL folded).
Smith strugged a little bit last year and you have to wonder how many good years of basketball are left in her. She would turn 36 years old in the 2010 season. One can understand that Smith wants to be in a comfortable situation and doesn’t want the pressure of starting all over in Tulsa. She’s earned the right to go wherever she wants.
Deanna Nolan is a different story. Nolan is only thirty. The last time she missed more than one regular season game is 2003. After her rookie season in 2001, Nolan has started every game for the Shock. She’s a four-time All-Star and one of those players that is capable of dropping 30 points on you every night. Trust me, you want Deanna Nolan playing for your team. Mike Cound, Tweety’s agent, states that “[Nolan] is under no contractual obligation to compete for Tulsa or any other WNBA team at this time”.
So why is Nolan threatening not to come and play for Tulsa? You can choose four reasons – pick whichever one satisfies you the most.
1) She’s exhausted. The years of playing in Europe in winter and the United States in the summer have just worn her out. She needs a year of rest.
2) Nolan has a Russian passport. The Russians want to compete for the FIBA World Championships in 2010. Her home team, Ekaterinburg, is making it worth her while ($$) to hold out.
3) She doesn’t want to play for Nolan Richardson. Not that Richardson isn’t a nice man if you get to know him, but his system is called “Forty Minutes of Hell” for a good reason. Nolan doesn’t want to wipe herself out during the WNBA season.
4) (Fill in the other reason).