Due to recent speculation and events, it has become a legitimate rumor that the New York Liberty could be interested in acquiring all-star guard/forward Angel McCoughtry from the Atlanta Dream. A restricted free agent this year, teams have been allowed to contact McCoughtry and other free agents for possible negotiations since January 15. Official contracts can’t be signed until February 1, and don’t be surprised if the WNBA’s next blockbuster trade reads, “McCoughtry to New York”.
There are several facets of tangible evidence that not only contribute to the mere possibility of this acquisition, but also brings to light what should be the obvious notion that this could be the consummate cherry-on-top of the triumphant cake that was Cappie Pondexter for the New York Liberty in 2010.
First, newly hired head coach Bill Laimbeer’s address to Liberty fans about ten days ago, in which he stated, “the 2013 Liberty roster will really begin to take shape” during the aforementioned free agency period. If that’s not enough, how about Laimbeer’s recent trip to Turkey, where Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter happens to be competing with Angel McCoughtry on the same Turkish club team. In an interview with Turkish press, Laimbeer included McCoughtry on the list of players he was there to visit, as well as his knowledge of her free agency.
Speaking briefly from a basketball perspective, Pondexter and McCoughtry have styles that somewhat oddly compliment each other. Cappie Pondexter is first and foremost an innate scorer, able to get her shot off better than anyone in the WNBA. McCoughtry is also a prolific scorer. She led the WNBA with 21 points per game last season, but she normally scores in bunches by forcing turnovers, scoring in transition, and getting to the free throw line. Their common ground is in the open court, where they both excel and would host track meets against their opponents. Such a pairing would undoubtedly resolve the offensive struggles for the Liberty these past two seasons.
Interestingly enough, the duo of Pondexter and McCoughtry has already proven itself lethal. The two are currently in their second season competing together on the Istanbul-based Fenerbahce club team. Last year they led Fenerbahce to their seventh straight Turkish League title in a fashion that should have Liberty fans petitioning for this move. In a best-of-5 series, Pondexter and McCoughtry led Fenerbahce against Galatasaray, featuring the likes of fellow WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles, Epiphany Prince, and Tina Charles. Fenerbahce won the series 3-1. See the wild Game 4 recap here.
By hiring Bill Laimbeer as their head coach, the New York Liberty have set an unprecedented championship standard for their organization. Given their inability to advance past the conference semifinals the last two years, the hire was a vital step in rejuvenating the Liberty franchise. Acquiring a player such as Angel McCoughtry would not only complete the New York Liberty rejuvenation process, it would pair up two superstars who have experience playing together, with the potential of becoming one of the most dangerous scoring tandems in WNBA history.