Minnesota sports fans couldn't be more familiar with the words if they were tattooed on the inside of their eyelids. Rebuild. Patience. Future.
Someday, someday will arrive. That's the pitch so many prominent Minnesota sports teams have made to their fan bases, a pitch that doesn't always make it to the plate.
Breaking this pattern are the Lynx, winners of the past four major sports championships by a Minnesota team and a franchise that, given the option of rebuilding, decided not to take the easy way out.
After winning four WNBA titles in seven years, then losing all but one of their stars, the Lynx faced a painful decision following the 2018 season: Rebuild and lessen their hard-earned popularity, or try to win and risk languishing in competitive limbo, without high draft choices to procure exceptional talent.
The owner, Glen Taylor, met with the coach, Cheryl Reeve, who would soon become the team's general manager as well. Reeve laid out the options. They decided they wanted to take the risky route — trying to win without a rebuilding lull.
That decision led to a flurry of moves Reeve made in the past month that may have propelled the Lynx back into championship contention. They have signed perhaps the two best wings available in free agency, a strong post player and built their best starting lineup since Maya Moore was known more for jumpers than social justice.
The building of this roster began before the 2019 season. Reeve drafted Napheesa Collier with the sixth pick and traded guard Alexis Jones for guard Odyssey Sims. Collier would become the league's Rookie of the Year, and Sims would become an All-Star for the first time, and the Lynx would make the playoffs.
Before the 2020 season, Reeve chose point guard Crystal Dangerfield 16th overall in the draft. She would become the WNBA's first second-round pick to win Rookie of the Year, and the Lynx would advance to the league semifinals before losing to eventual champion Seattle.
Following the 2019 season, the WNBA entered its first true free-agent phase, creating an offseason of dramatic moves. Reeve did not make any big moves, believing that teams were overspending and that quality players would become available at reasonable prices after the 2020 season.
That history explains what the Lynx have done the past two months:
1. They signed three-time All-Star shooting guard Kayla McBride.
2. They signed wing Aerial Powers, who helped Washington win a title in 2019 and in 2020 was having her best statistical season when she suffered a season-ending injury after six games.
3. They signed 6-3 post Natalie Achonwa, a strong defender who can play alongside star center Sylvia Fowles, or spell her.
4. They made a trade that, without context, would seem bizarre, trading Sims, a first-round draft pick, a third-round pick and the rights to Temi Fagbenle to Indiana for a second-round pick.
The first three moves explain the fourth. WNBA teams are allowed to carry nine guaranteed contracts. Once they signed three prime free agents, they unofficially reached 10.
The rest of the league knew they had to trade one, most likely Sims, so the Lynx made a deal that is essentially a contract subtraction.
During their dynasty, the Lynx had four Olympians — Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Fowles, plus Rebekkah Brunson, who won more championships than any player in league history and was the league's leading rebounder before Fowles passed her in 2020.
After drafting two rookies of the year and adding three prime free agents to go with Fowles, the Lynx will field a powerhouse roster for the first time since 2017.
A possible starting lineup would have Dangerfield at point guard, Powers and McBride as wings, Collier as the starting power forward and Fowles at center. Damiris Dantas and Achonwa provide frontcourt depth, and Lexie Brown, Rachel Banham and Bridget Carleton provide guard and wing depth.
This team isn't as spectacularly accomplished as the ones led by Moore, but it is deeper.
Taylor told Reeve to win rather than rebuild. Very quickly, she did both.
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org