With opening night coming Saturday, the Lynx have essentially finished building the roster that will start the season.
“We’re done,” General Manager/coach Cheryl Reeve said.
The finishing touches came in the past couple days. On Tuesday, the team sent a second-round pick in 2020 to Phoenix for small forward Stephanie Talbot and a third-rounder in 2020 to Chicago for center Alaina Coates. Wednesday morning the Lynx waived veteran forward Erlana Larkins.
The Lynx will put Temi Fagbenle on the temporarily suspended list this week — she will be returning to Great Britain to play for her national team in Olympic qualifying — putting the team’s roster at 12.
Reeve said the trades were made to get a cost-effective full 12-player roster, acquire a player in Coates whose full potential might not yet be tapped, and add a player such as Talbot, who can shoot three-pointers. Talbot played one year with current Lynx point guard Danielle Robinson in Phoenix, and Reeve said Robinson gave her a glowing review of Talbot’s work ethic and skills.
“We see more of an immediate opportunity for Steph,” Reeve said. “With [Coates] we’ll be patient with her. It will be more of a process.”
The second overall pick in the 2017 draft, Coates missed her first season because of an injury. She said she was happy to come to Minnesota, a situation she saw as essentially a new start.
“I didn’t really get to show my talents, utilize my talents in Chicago,” she said. “I feel I could be a good puzzle piece to fit into this system here.”
Reeve was asked if the Lynx, given the roster turnover, were heading into the season with an underdog mentality and the motivation that comes with it. Not necessarily, she said, adding that the annual survey of league general managers might change that a bit.
The survey was released Wednesday. And when it comes to expectations for the Lynx, they aren’t very big around the league. The Lynx got no votes — GMs couldn’t vote for their own teams — when it came to who was favored to win the league (Las Vegas, followed by Phoenix), who the MVP would be (Elena Delle Donne, followed by Brittney Griner and A’ja Wilson), the rookie of the year (Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale). The Lynx finished third in the category of best offseason moves and were tied for third for the league’s best defense.
But expectations? Minimal.
“I don’t care, simply put,” Reeve said. “I told these guys, whether you’re picked to win it or whatever, we really don’t care. We have so much work to do as a team to play well. That’s our focus.”
There were a few Lynx players who got some recognition, led by veteran center Sylvia Fowles. She tied with Griner for top center and was voted top rebounder and best interior defender. She was voted second for best finisher, the player with the best post moves and the player with whom you’d want to start a franchise. Guard Seimone Augustus finished tied for second — with seven others — in the category of player best at getting her own shot. Reeve got only one vote for best coach overall but was voted the league’s second-best motivator. Napheesa Collier finished in a tie for third on the question of which “sleeper” rookie is most likely to succeed.