On a busy Tuesday, the Lynx re-signed center Sylvia Fowles and backup guard Renee Montgomery but were ultimately forced by salary cap concerns to part ways with forward Devereaux Peters.
Re-signing Fowles, a free agent, was an expected move. Signing Montgomery, also a free agent, after her important contributions down the stretch of last season was a big plus. But, in a sign-and-trade deal, Peters, a free agent whose rookie contract had just expired, was sent to Indiana in exchange for forward Natasha Howard.
There was no question that Fowles wanted to be here; while with Chicago, she held out half of last season after declaring her desire to play for the Lynx. Arriving after the All-Star Game break, she started the final 18 regular-season games, then helped lead the Lynx to their third WNBA title in five years, finishing the season being named the finals MVP.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to join the Lynx family last year, and am now officially looking forward to more success together,” Fowles said via a news release by the team. “It’s an honor to be back.”
Fowles is currently finishing her season in China’s professional league.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is excited to have Fowles back, especially from the start of training camp. “Having the chance for her to be in a full training camp with us, it will give her even more of a level of comfort and chemistry with the starters,” Reeve said.
Fowles averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in her 18 regular-season games. In the WNBA Finals, she averaged 15.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in the five-game series with Indiana.
Fowles, originally the second overall pick in the 2008 league draft by Chicago, was a member of the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold-medal teams. She, along with Lynx teammates Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen, are strong candidates to represent the U.S. this summer in Brazil.
But with an experienced, veteran — and expensive — starting five, the Lynx were a bit limited in what could be done to retain Peters, who had become a valuable backup.
Originally drafted with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, Peters averaged 4.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 125 career regular-season games.
“We wanted her to return,” Reeve said of Peters, whose rookie contract had just expired. “But we knew it would be a challenge given our situation with the salary cap.”
For Peters, the Lynx got a 6-3 forward with athletic ability. Howard, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, comes to the Lynx with career averages of 5.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 14.4 minutes per game in 64 regular-season games.
As a rookie she played in all 34 games with the Fever, started 15 and scored in double figures 11 times. Her numbers were down a bit last season, but Reeve was impressed with the way Howard played against the Lynx in the finals. Reeve said Howard has more of a scoring mentality than Peters but will have to work on her defense and rebounding: “No question she is a young talent who has shown at times she can be pretty good.”
Montgomery, originally drafted by the Lynx in 2009, returned to Minnesota midway through last season in a trade with Seattle. She was a quality backup at point guard.
Her return will allow Reeve to limit minutes for Whalen, important in an Olympic year.