Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

E-mail Roman

Three reserves on Lynx championship team unsigned

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Lynx Updated: February 1, 2012 - 5:11 PM

Roger Griffith, executive vice president of the Lynx, said on Wednesday that he wants to keep as much of the 2011 championship team together as he possibly can.

"But it is always natural that you won't keep everyone -- that not everyone will be back," Griffith said.

Eight of the players on last year's teams are under contract. Two re-signed recently.

Center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, listed as a core player by wnba.com, re-signed Jan. 23. The key offseason question about her was whether she would retire. She turned 41 in October. None of the other four core players have signed, including MVP Tamika Catchings of Indiana.

Three days later, the Lynx re-signed Jessica Adair, a 6-4 backup center. Seventeen other reserved players have not signed yet. Los Angeles has five of them.

Griffith said re-signing both centers was not surprising, although the Lynx wondered whether McWilliams-Franklin would retire. There is a "comfort factor" with having both back, he said.

Three reserves on the 2011 roster are among the league's 23 unsigned restricted free agents, according to a list on wnba.com. They are forward Charde Houston and guards Alexis Hornbuckle and Candice Wiggins.

Restricted means that if they sign with another team, the Lynx can match the offer.

Griffith said he has talked to the agents of all three. But he declined to say if any are close to re-signing with the Lynx.  "They have some decisions to make about their future," he said.

It's unlikely the Lynx will bring all three back because the 2012 roster will be hard to make. The Lynx have four returning all-stars coming back and McWilliams-Franklin at center. That leaves six reserve spots open.

One, maybe two or three of those six spots will go to draft picks. The Lynx have the No. 3 and 12 picks in the first round of this year's WNBA draft of college players, plus three picks in the second round and one in the third.

So who will go?

Houston is a popular player, a member of the Lynx for four seasons.  Very fan friendly. Helps out in the community. But her minutes were limited last season. She has some wonderful moves to the basket, but her defense has sometimes been questioned. Her ball-handling isn't a strength either.

She averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds last season and played just 7.8 minutes. All those are career lows.

Hornbuckle is not much of an impact player either but more reliable. Her and Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve also have a history going back to 2008 when Hornbuckle was a rookie and Reeve an assistant on the Detroit Shock's league champions.

She averaged 1.1 points and 0.6 assists in a team-low 7.2 minutes per game. Those numbers were all career lows, too.

Wiggins probably could start on many other WNBA teams. She helped win several games last season with her three-point shooting. But on the Lynx, she is a valuable sub, not a starter. Now that she has a championship ring, she might want to go somewhere else to play more. Her roots are in California. Some place more sunny and warm out West might appeal to her.

Then the question is, how hard the Lynx will want to pursue her? They still need somebody to make threes besides Maya Moore.

Wiggins averaged 5.9 points and 1.5 assists in 17.1 minutes -- all career lows. She shot 39.5 percent on threes. She plays with a lot of energy and fire. She has been a Lynx player for four years as well.

Besides dealing with those three players and scouting college players, the Lynx are not actively pursing any trades or trying to sign free agents who were on other WNBA teams last year.

"We are not looking to make any moves," Griffith said. "But we are happy to listen."

Griffith said he wold be willing to consider a great offer and that he is always looking for ways to improve the team.

The Lynx, of course, were already the WNBA's best team already last season, going 27-7 during the regular season and 7-1 in the playoffs.

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT