The first thing Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve asks when a player returns from having played overseas is: How do you feel?
Tuesday she got the right answer from Seimone Augustus.
“I feel great,” Augustus said Wednesday, after finishing her first practice with the Lynx. Augustus, who competed in Russia, played her final game May 4. She was back home in Louisiana the next day, spent a couple of days knocking back crawfish and gumbo and came to Minnesota.
“I feel good getting up and down [the court], my wind felt good. My legs feel good. So I’ll do what I do and see what happens.”
Her return gave Reeve four of her five starters. Power forward Rebekkah Brunson is due back in the states Wednesday and will join the team Friday, the day before a nationally televised regular-season opener against Phoenix at Target Center.
Reeve said she’d like to have more than one practice with all five starters. But, unless Brunson isn’t ready for some reason — and Reeve does not anticipate that happening — Brunson and Augustus will join Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen in the starting lineup Saturday.
“I’m glad to be back,” Augustus said. “Excited to get back into the flow of things. But once you get on the court with Sylvia, Lindsay, Maya? You know we’ve been doing this for a long time. So it’s normal. It feels good.”
Augustus has struggled with knee issues the past two seasons. She missed 10 games in 2014, 18 last season. She played in a career-low 16 games and averaged a career-low 13.8 points per game. For her to be feeling this good with the season about to begin is a good sign.
“We’re starting from a really good place,” Reeve said. “So now it’s my job to try to keep it at least near where she’s feeling now.”
With the opener looming, the Lynx started their Mercury-focused preparation Tuesday while still trying to work out rotations.
Janel McCarville and Natasha Howard will be the top post players off the bench, with Jia Perkins and Renee Montgomery the reserve guards. Reeve talked Wednesday about an eight-player rotation, with matchups determining which backup big she gives more minutes to.
This is the first time Reeve will have McCarville coming off the bench, so a lot of thought has gone into how to make that work. Reeve wants to make sure McCarville gets significant time with Moore and Augustus, for example. McCarville is a strong passer from the high post; Wednesday she ended practice with a behind-the-back feed to Fowles for a basket. Moore and Augustus, meanwhile, are both strong at cutting to the basket and posting up smaller defenders.
“I don’t want to have, say, Renee and Jia out there with Janel most of the time,” Reeve said. “They aren’t my basket cutters. So we’ll have to take a look at that, see how it works out.”
The possibility remains of McCarville and Fowles being on the floor together, but that may be limited by defensive matchups.
The Lynx, who will take Thursday off, will have two more practices to figure that out before the opener.
• Reeve said the team’s final roster decision will be made after Wednesday’s practice. Power forward Bashaara Graves, small forward Keisha Hampton and center Porsha Roberts are competing for the final two roster spots.