Written By Mitch Hansen (ZoneCoverage.com)
On Tuesday, Minnesota Lynx All-Star wing Maya Moore shook the WNBA and basketball world with the news that she will not be playing professional basketball in 2019. Moore announced via the Players’ Tribune early in the afternoon that she will sit out this summer’s WNBA season as well as the rest of the calendar year to further pursue her ministry dreams.
I will not be playing professional basketball this year. https://t.co/cVUO9Uhjd0
— Maya Moore (@MooreMaya) February 5, 2019
From strictly a basketball standpoint on the court, Moore’s absence is a big blow and obviously leaves the Lynx with a large hole to fill among a unit and starting lineup that will already be without Lindsay Whalen who retired following the 2018 season.
From an off-the-court and personal standpoint, it’s admirable to see a player of Moore’s caliber take a leap of faith and shift her attention to something other than sports that is very important to her. For a person whose life has consisted of living and breathing the game of basketball, this couldn’t have been an easy decision for Moore or one that she made without some extensive thought.
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) February 5, 2019
It is unknown exactly how long Moore will be away from the game of basketball or if she plans on returning to the Lynx and the WNBA in 2020 or even if she plans on playing overseas in the future.
All that we know right now is that she will not be in a Minnesota uniform or on a professional basketball court through 2019.
Amid this latest news surrounding one the WNBA’s star players and one of the top players to sport a Lynx uniform, where does Minnesota go from here? Let’s take a look at what lies ahead for the Lynx as the offseason continues to roll along.
As of Wednesday, the Lynx currently have seven players under contract for the 2019 season, with a few potential impending moves in free agency waiting to work themselves out.
Here is a look at the current roster construction for Minnesota, along with what its contract situations are:
|Lynx Current 2019 Roster
As of 2/6/19
|Temi Fagbenle||Ends after 2019 (team option in 2020)|
|Sylvia Fowles||Ends after 2019|
|Alexis Jones||Ends after 2019 (team option in 2020)|
|Danielle Robinson||Ends after 2019|
|Tanisha Wright||Ends after 2019|
|Karima Christmas-Kelly||Signed as free agent in 2019|
|Seimone Augustus||Signed as free agent in 2019|
There are a few players out on the free agent market that will likely find their way back to Minnesota yet again this summer, most notably unrestricted free agent Rebekkah Brunson and reserved free agent Cecilia Zandalasini.
There have also been reports — which were initiated by Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune — suggesting that the Lynx have signed restricted free-agent forward and former Lynx post Damiris Dantas to an offer sheet. The Atlanta Dream, who Dantas played for last season, have until the end of the week to decide if they want to match the offer made by Minnesota or let her leave.
Assuming Brunson, Zandalasini and Dantas all end up with the Lynx for the upcoming campaign, that would move Minnesota up to having 10 of its 12 roster spots filled.
That would also a cement a somewhat similar starting lineup that could consist of Robinson, Augustus, Christmas-Kelly, Brunson and Fowles, with already a nice mix of a second unit to sprinkle in behind them.
Although they are getting down there on space, that doesn’t mean Minnesota doesn’t have the ability to spend money. With Whalen’s max contract off the books and Moore’s contract soon joining that, the Lynx will be able to go out and make more moves this offseason if they would like to.
Whether that’s with signing more players or making moves via trade, Minnesota has flexibility. Perhaps more than it has had in years.
Plenty of players still left in free agency
Outside of the players outlined above who are likely to join or re-sign with the Lynx but are still technically in the free agent pool, there are a decent number of other options left out there for Minnesota to explore in free agency if Cheryl Reeve and company choose to go that route.
With the free agency period just a week and a half in, there are still nearly 30 names that the Lynx could take a long, hard look at to add to their roster ahead of the summer.
Some of those players could prove to be nice additions in supporting roles coming off the bench or swapping between starter and bench roles with Minnesota in 2019.
For a look at the entire list of restricted, unrestricted and reserved free agents, visit the WNBA’s list here.
The draft and exploring with trades
Another interesting thing with Minnesota now having some extra cap space is that it might have the extra motivation to look to make a change on its roster via trade this offseason — or even down the road once the season begins.
That could mean making a trade to move up or down in the upcoming WNBA Draft in April to acquire a higher pick or player that Reeve believes can help the Lynx win now more than their current cast of players.
In the draft, the Lynx have a bevy of picks that they could use as trade bait, including the sixth, 16th, 18th, 20th and 30th overall selections. Odds are, we will likely see at least one trade from Minnesota on draft night, even if it consists of the Lynx swapping a few of those picks to jump ahead in the draft order.
Although she has been smart in the past and more than likely will be in the future when it comes to being patient and not just making a trade for the sake of doing so, Reeve has been somewhat vocal the last few offseasons about being open to exploring options via trade with other teams. So this avenue is certainly a possibility at any moment for Minnesota.
The Lynx are going to look a lot different during the summer of 2019, especially without having two of their All-Star staples in Moore and Whalen taking the floor. But Minnesota will continue to have plenty of options both this season and beyond when it comes to its roster.