Seattle received one offseason wish, the Storm announcing the re-signing of F Camille Little to a multiyear deal on Wednesday. At a rally to celebrate the 2010 championship, fans roared for the dominate post to return when asked by coach Brian Agler to show their appreciation.
Little was a restricted free agent, meaning Seattle could match any deal offered to its three-year starter. But Little made it easy, stating multiple times she wanted to return to Seattle.
Teammate Swin Cash, an unrestricted free agent, has been mum since concluding the WNBA season, however. The two-time WNBA champion said she always explores her options and felt no different despite that same September crowd chanting for her return.
But Agler remains confident she’ll re-sign, adding that Seattle could be Cash’s final stop. A nine-year veteran, Cash averaged 13.8 points and 6 rebounds, shooting a career-best 40.7 percent from three-point range.
“If we felt threatened in that way, we would have cored her,” Agler said of making Cash a franchise player so she could only negotiate with Seattle as a free agent. “Those core tags are valuable to have, so we have that if we need it for a situation in a later case. But Swin has had a great three years here, she’s overcome a lot of adversity physically and how she played last year, the second year off (back) surgery, is a testament to her hard work. We feel real good feel about her not only continuing her career here, but I’ve got a great feel that she’ll retire from the game in Seattle.”
Cash’s signing may not be announced as quickly due to her dealing with family issues stateside and professional challenges with her team in China. She is expected to represent the Storm at the NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles from Feb. 18-20.
“She’s going through a difficult time,” Agler said. “But she really is a professional. She’s one of the great competitors in sports right now.”
Meanwhile three-time MVP Lauren Jackson is under contract, but undergoing minor surgery on the injured foot. Jackson told Australian newspapers that she was dealing with a tear under her Achilles tendon and would only take weeks to recover.
Agler doesn’t know what the rehabilitation is now that she’ll have surgery this month, but he is in daily contact with the All-Star and was assured she’d be able to the play in 2011 season. Jackson is the Storm’s all-time leading scorer.
“I wish I had more detail, we’re working to get that,” Agler said. “It’s not the the Achilles tendon itself, it’s a smaller tendon in the same immediate area. She feels real confident that it’s going to eliminate some of this pain that she’s dealing with and we’ll go from there.
“I’m always concerned about all of our players. In regards to Lauren in my three years, two of the years we didn’t have her and we didn’t spend a lot of time in the playoffs. The one year we did, we spent a lot of time. So this is concerning to me. That being said, I gauge a lot of my thought and opinions on her optimism and thought process. She was really relieved when she found out it was this issue and not an Achilles issue. She’s been looked at by multiple people and the physicians that she’s worked with are all coming to the same conclusion. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Jackson is in her native Australia and should she return as expected, fellow Aussies Abby Bishop and Alison Lacey may join. Agler said Bishop is a lock to be at training camp when it opens May 15 while Lacey will decide once the WNBL season concludes.
C Ashley Robinson is another player who has been offered a training camp invite. Cut from the same WNBL team as Bishop, Robinson recently signed to play in Israel. Agler said the seven-year pro’s stats overseas do not matter because his staff knows the value of Robinson on Seattle’s roster.
“That’s a good sign for Ashley,” Agler said of her travels back overseas. “It shows she’s committed to getting better. I think it’s a scenario where she’ll come in and have a great opportunity to make our team. It’ll be up to her, but she brings a lot of positive things for us.”
Depending on training camp performances, the biggest voids are 2010 reserves Jana Vesela and Svetlana Abrosimova. Neither are returning due to national team commitments, Vesela expressing interests to play for Seattle in 2012.
Agler said it could be different players, but he’s going to take great care in replacing the versatile duo. Abrosimova in particular saved the Storm from late-game losses with her three-point shooting and was able to handle the point position to offer different looks. Vesela was a solid defender with a nice offensive touch.
Elsewhere, more WNBA free agents took the opportunity to return closer to home with their new found freedom. Midwesterner Tangela Smith signed with Indiana after winning a championship with Phoenix and former Fever star Ebony Hoffman signed with Los Angeles. A native Californian, Hoffman starred at USC.
The Sparks re-signed PG Ticha Penicheiro and G Noelle Quinn, adding G Natasha Lacy and LaToya Pringle to their training camp roster. LA is also looking to land PG Loree Moore, who signed with Seattle last summer but was cut after suffering a season-ending knee injury.