A trade that brought center Sylvia Fowles to the Lynx meant many things. First, the addition of a fifth U.S. Olympian to the roster made an already impressive lineup that much more daunting, and deep.
The 6-6, 29-year-old Fowles, who has loads of international experience and was a college teammate of Seimone Augustus, immediately became the best center in Lynx history, someone able to score, block shots and rebound, in the process extending the Lynx’s window to compete for titles.
But it also showed that good things often come to those who wait.
Fowles, who sat out the first half of the season while seeking a trade, has wanted to be here for months. She knew the Lynx players, having played with many while winning Olympic gold. She had told the Chicago Sky — the team that drafted her second overall in 2008 — as much, going so far as to sit out this season so far, hoping a deal would get done. The Lynx, meanwhile, had been trying to work a trade for Fowles for just as long. Finally, Monday, it happened. All it took was the perfect third team to become involved.
A perennial contender, the Dream is having a tough season, last in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. Atlanta was ready to make a deal for the future, and had a veteran center in Erika de Souza that Chicago liked. So the Lynx sent Damiris Dantas, Reshanda Gray and their 2016 first-round pick to Atlanta, which sent de Souza to Chicago, which then sent Fowles and a 2016 second-rounder to the Lynx.
“Obviously we have goals of winning championships,” Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith said. “This is all designed to really maximize our opportunity to do that. With the depth we have, we feel like we’re in a really good situation.”
An understatement, perhaps. Coach Cheryl Reeve called it a big day in the organization’s history, a move worth the cost.
“We think it puts us in our best position to be successful in our window of championship opportunity,’’ she said. “Sylvia Fowles doesn’t come along every day.”
A three-time All-Star who has averaged 15.7 points per game in her career, Fowles’ presence in the post should only make things easier for Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Augustus. But it’s on defense where Fowles figures to have the biggest — and most immediate — impact. The Lynx, already a good rebounding team, will get better.
And Fowles can defend the rim; Reeve joked that the team’s perimeter players were thrilled with the move.
“When they get beat, Sylvia should be able to be there to provide assistance,” Reeve said.
Fowles was not made available to the media Monday. She will have an introductory news conference Tuesday.
Reeve said Fowles would be in the lineup Wednesday when the Lynx plays host to Los Angeles, which will have All-Star Candace Parker in the lineup for the first time this season.
There is a lot of familiarity here. Fowles went to NCAA Final Fours with Augustus at Louisiana State. She played with Augustus, Moore, Whalen and Asjha Jones at the 2012 London Olympics. She and Augustus have been keeping in touch constantly; Monday, Augustus was soliciting advice on where she should take Fowles to dinner upon her arrival Monday night.
“We can unite and try to win a championship, something we didn’t do in college,” Augustus said.
Whalen also played a season with Fowles in Europe.
“She’s a great player,” Whalen said. “I mean, just a dominant force. She’s one of the best post players who has ever played. She’s just unbelievable. Athletic, she can run. … This should be a lot of fun.”
Reeve said her concepts and schemes wouldn’t change much, and she didn’t think it would take Fowles long to get up to speed.
When the Lynx lineup gets fully healthy, it will be remarkably deep, thanks in part to all the moves Griffith has made. That includes a draft-day deal for guard Anna Cruz and last week’s trade for Renee Montgomery from Seattle. Reeve will be able to put out a second unit of Cruz, Montgomery, Devereaux Peters, Jones and Tricia Liston; that kind of depth can allow Reeve to monitor the minutes on her veterans.
“It would be a disappointment to have that many Olympians and not win a championship,” Augustus said.
• Whalen, who got poked in her right eye July 19 in Tulsa, was back at practice Monday and will play Wednesday. Whalen — who had a similar injury six seasons ago — will wear protective goggles, likely for the rest of the season.
• Augustus, who had right knee surgery July 17, has ditched her crutches and appears to be walking with very little, if any, limp. Augustus said Monday she might be healing slightly ahead of schedule, but a mid-August return is still the goal.
• To bring their roster back to 11 players, the Lynx will bring back former Gophers star Shae Kelley. Kelley was taken by the Lynx in the third round in the 2015 draft.