If the Lynx’s exhibition game last week in Washington, D.C., was all about evaluation, the goal in Monday’s exhibition finale against New York will be to get momentum and settle rotations for Friday’s season opener.
Well, perhaps with an exception or two.
To coach Cheryl Reeve, much of the roster — which will begin the season at 11, with Spanish guard Anna Cruz set to join the team in early July — is set.
“We have to get our core group moving closer to a well-oiled machine,” she said.
The Lynx roster was trimmed by one Sunday when the Lynx announced center Amber Harris had been waived. Harris had been attempting a comeback from a knee injury that cost her the 2014 WNBA season. The move left the Lynx roster at 13, with two more cuts needed by Wednesday.
So a big decision remains, one that will turn on how backup guard Monica Wright is playing.
Wright spent most of the winter and spring recovering from a knee procedure — her second in six months — performed after the 2014 WNBA season. With Wright not having played in quite a while, Reeve said she felt the player needed a full training camp to get back up to speed.
But a calf injury suffered on the opening day of camp kept Wright sidelined for days.
Wright at 100 percent can play both her natural position of off-guard and can also spell starting point guard Lindsay Whalen. A year ago Wright, who missed part of the start of the season following knee surgery, got up to speed quickly following her return. With opening night days away, that could still happen.
“That hasn’t happened yet,” Reeve said. “And we only have a couple days for that to happen.”
Bottom line is if Wright is ready to play both roles, the Lynx will keep four backcourt players in Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Wright and Tricia Liston. That would enable Reeve to keep an extra backup small forward, either Asia Taylor or rookie Shae Kelley, both of whom have had good camps.
But if Wright needs more time, Reeve would opt to keep backup point guard Jennifer O’Neill at the expense of both Taylor and Kelley, citing the need for help at the point until Cruz arrives.
“That’s the decision we have to make,” Reeve said. “A lot of that is on [Wright].”
Which means Monday’s game could be very important for the three players — O’Neill, Taylor and Kelley — vying for a roster spot.
Meanwhile, Reeve wants to make sure Damiris Dantas is ready to start at center when the season starts. Reeve does not expect recently acquired veteran Asjha Jones to be ready. Jones is receiving treatment and is recovering from a blood deficiency discovered in her pre-camp physical. But Reeve doesn’t expect her to play with her new teammates until at least two weeks into the season. That means Dantas could be the starter for the first seven games.
Dantas has taken a big step in her second training camp, and she responded well when put into the starting lineup at the start of last season, when she played power forward with Rebekkah Brunson recovering from knee surgery. She will start this season alongside Brunson.
That said, the team appears set in the post, with Jones, Brunson, Dantas, rookie Reshanda Gray and Devereaux Peters. Peters has had a strong camp and Gray played well in the first preseason game.
“We have a couple decisions ahead of us,” Reeve said. “This group has made it hard, as they always do. In the end, we feel we’ll have a pretty good balance on our roster.”