More than just about anybody, Seimone Augustus knows how it used to be.
The Lynx star has scored in droves for a team that lost in bunches, fought through a knee injury that all but wiped out one season and abdominal surgery that limited her in the next. She has seen the Lynx go from losing too much to winning it all and, in the process, became the face of the franchise.
So there was no question about her wanting to stick around.
“No-brainer,” she joked Friday, shortly after the team’s flight from Los Angeles landed, right after she signed a multiyear contract extension. “Being here as long as I have, I’ve seen player changes, coaching changes. But to see how this team has come together, with a great coach, great team — you can see the chemistry here. I didn’t want that to change. The biggest thing for me is I would like to finish where I started. And I started here.”
The length and terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith is doing his best to keep this band together. A week ago the Lynx re-signed point guard Lindsay Whalen. And now Augustus, ensuring the core of a very successful team will stay together.
This season Augustus, 29, is averaging 16.3 points — 10th best in the WNBA — and making a career-best 51.6 percent of her shots entering Saturday’s regular season finale against Chicago at Target Center. That scoring average has kicked up to 17.8 since the All Star break, an indication Augustus is peaking for the playoffs.
This season the Lynx had four All-Stars in Augustus, Whalen, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson. Whalen is having a career year, Moore is a strong contender for MVP honors, and Brunson remains one of the league’s most consistent frontcourt playersBut, as coach Cheryl Reeve said just over a week ago, the Lynx are still Augustus’ team.
Reeve came to the Lynx in 2010 and watched Augustus, fighting back from surgery, battle through a difficult year. After it was over the two sat down and talked about what Augustus wanted her legacy to be. Reeve urged Augustus to round out her game, add more defense and rebounding to the mix, grow as a leader.
“And we saw that in 2011,” Reeve said. “We saw her embrace that. She became a leader, she did all the things we talked about. Plus, being able to score the ball like she did.”
The rest was, as they say, historic. The Lynx won the WNBA title and Augustus was Finals MVP.
“Watching her accept that MVP trophy in the finals is up there with the most gratifying moments I’ve had as a coach,” Reeve said.
Since the start of the 2011 season, the Lynx have gone 79-22 in the regular season and are just the third team in league history to string together three 25-plus-win seasons. They won the 2011 title, reached the finals last season and will begin their quest for another title in next Friday’s playoff opener against Seattle.
In her eighth season, Augustus holds franchise records for games played (223), points (4,174; she was the fourth-fastest player in league history to the 4,000 mark), field goals (1,666) and minutes (6,985). She is a three-time All-Star, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
And a career-long Lynx player.
“We have connected,” Augustus said of the chemistry with Brunson, Moore and Whalen, together since 2011. “We have a great bond. We mesh together as people, our games mesh together.’’