Renee Montgomery has played against her old team once before. But that was in Atlanta. Tonight, Montgomery, who was a big part of two WNBA championship teams here in Minnesota, will play against the Lynx on their turf for the first time since signing with the Atlanta Dream as a free agent during the off-season.
“It is different,’’ said Montgomery, 31, after the Dream’s shootaround this morning on the Target Center floor. “It’s strange coming back as a visitor. The locker room is actually the same, though. They switched to a better locker room.’’
Montgomery began her WNBA career with the Lynx. She was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. But, a year later, she was part of the trade with Connecticut that brought Lindsay Whalen to the Lynx. Montgomery was playing in Seattle in 2015 when, in a mid-season trade, she was acquired by the Lynx in a trade that sent Monica Wright to the Storm. Montgomery, along with Anna Cruz, became a strong backup backcourt for the Lynx, who went on to win the 2015 title over Indiana.
Last season Montgomery stepped in late in the season after Whalen was hurt and helped the Lynx finish with the WNBA’s top seed and, eventually, another title.
She said her decision to sign with Atlanta was a difficult one. But being able to be closer to family was the ultimate reason she made the move. With the dream she has started every game. She is averaging 27.8 minutes, the second-most of her career, and is scoring 10.0 points per game.
“It’s always uneasy going to an unknown situation,’’ she said. “It’s never easy to leave the best team in the league. So it was a difficult decision. But it was hard last year. Because there were so many great moments and I was like, ‘Man, I wish my family was here.’ So it’s kind of like, I knew I wanted to be closer to them.’’
Montgomery said she wasn’t worried the Lynx were in trouble when Minnesota started the season 3-6. “I thought, ‘That’s not going to last long,’" she said. “It’s not over until they say it’s over.’’
And she wasn’t surprised at all that the Lynx have responded with a five-game winning streak. “If that surprises anyone,’’ she said, “They’re silly.’’
Montgomery will receive her 2017 championship ring in a pre-game ceremony.