It appears Janel McCarville will be coming back to Minnesota. Again.
The former Gophers star center, who helped the Lynx win the 2013 WNBA title, has agreed in principle to return to the Lynx as a backup to Sylvia Fowles this season, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
No official deal is done. McCarville’s return will hinge on how she feels physically in the coming weeks; she just finished playing for a team in Turkey.
But her return would provide more veteran depth in the post for the Lynx, who will be trying for a third time to win back-to-back league titles when the 2016 season begins this month.
It would also re-reunite McCarville with her former Gophers teammate Lindsay Whalen. The two helped lead the Gophers to the women’s NCAA Final Four in the spring of 2004, then spent two seasons together with the Lynx.
Acquired in a three-team trade from the New York Liberty in March 2013, McCarville — who had sat out the 2011 season after a dispute with the Liberty — came to Minnesota and averaged 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the Lynx, who surged to their second WNBA title in three seasons.
In 2014 McCarville averaged 7.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Lynx, who were eliminated in the Western Conference finals by the Phoenix Mercury, which went on to win the league title.
McCarville battled back problems during the 2014 season. Last year, citing health, she decided not to play during the WNBA season, though she frequently attended Lynx games.
Minnesota, after acquiring Fowles in a midseason trade, returned to the finals, beating Indiana in five games for a third title in five seasons.
McCarville would add much-needed inside depth to a Lynx team that is determined, in an Olympic year, not to overtax its star players; Fowles and Whalen, along with Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, will be on the U.S. team playing in the Games this summer.
The 6-2 McCarville, 33, is a strong defender and a standout passer from the post. She, along with Natasha Howard — acquired in an offseason trade that sent Devereaux Peters to Indiana — would be experienced backups to Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson.
When she made the decision to sit out last summer, McCarville indicated that, should she return to the WNBA, the Lynx would be the only team she would want to play for.