Last week, I asked Lynx boss Cheryl Reeve whether this year's WNBA free agency would lead to mild reshuffling or fireworks.
"Fireworks,'' she said.
Deals won't be announced until Monday at the earliest, but the Lynx and their league have begun making moves that will make this offseason unlike any other in WNBA history, as well as Lynx history.
The Lynx will sign at least three free agents — three-time All-Star Kayla McBride, versatile wing Aerial Powers and center Natalie Achonwa.
Last year was the first year of truly open free agency for the league, and Reeve avoided the kind of megadeals that were made, choosing caution over irrational exuberance, and hoping that better, more reasonably priced deals would be available this offseason.
Now she has built perhaps the deepest roster in franchise history, one so deep that she will almost certainly look to trade a couple of her current players for another impact player.
Just a couple of years into what should be a rebuilding period following the Lynx's dynastic run, she is dealing from a position of strength. She has a future Hall of Famer in Sylvia Fowles, the last two rookies of the year in Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, an All-Star-caliber guard in Odyssey Sims, and now two standout wings in McBride and Powers.
Last season, the Lynx saw power forward Damiris Dantas emerge as an impact player. So if the season started tomorrow, the Lynx would have way more starting-quality players than starting jobs.
Ochonwa figures to back up Fowles, who at 35 remains a powerhouse player but will likely be rested more frequently.
Free agency appears to be a boon for the Lynx. It could be even more important for the league.
The WNBA's television ratings continue to increase, and the league's quality of play is superb. Imagine if the world's best men's basketball players were all packed onto 12 rosters. Even the bad teams would be loaded.
All the WNBA lacks is attention — from media and fans who don't know what they're missing.
Free agency can attract the right kind of attention. So can larger salaries.
One of the many advantages men's sports have over leagues like the WNBA is that men's sports are invested in before they prove they are viable. They don't need to demonstrate profitability or even competence before they receive new stadiums and blank checks.
So men's sports not only get money to burn, but they become the world's best reality shows: Watch a bunch of supreme athletes battle (and sometimes bicker) for millions of dollars. What could be more entertaining?
That's the next step for the WNBA — paying its players enough money that money and free agency fuel year-round speculation.
The NFL isn't America's dominant sport because of quality. Few teams seem to know what they're doing, and the average "Thursday Night Football" game is close to unwatchable.
The NFL is dominant because the league shrewdly learned decades ago that feeding the round-the-clock, year-round news cycle with fodder for hope and speculation was great for business. Try to find one day a year when NFL fans aren't talking about the draft, free agency, possible trades, coaching hirings and firings or an upcoming game. You can't do it.
If you want people to take your league seriously, then treat your stars like stars. Which means paying them like stars.
This is a rude but pertinent question: Why should the average basketball fan treat WNBA players as if they're valuable if their own league won't?
The NBA could help with this. In an equitable world, should Andrew Wiggins really be making 200 times what the world's best women's basketball player makes?
Let me help with the answer. It's no.
WNBA free agency is already fascinating. Candace Parker, one of the great players in the history of the game, will leave the Los Angeles Sparks to play for her hometown Chicago Sky, coached by former Lynx assistant James Wade. The Lynx are trying to position themselves to contend for another title. Seattle remains excellent and Las Vegas is putting together a powerhouse.
It's a great league in need of attention, and attention can be won with movement and money.