One of the most important free agency questions for the Lynx might soon be answered.
According to a league source, All-Star center Sylvia Fowles has decided to return to play in the WNBA next season, her 15th. It is unclear whether her return will be for one, or for multiple seasons.
Presumably that would indicate a return to the Lynx, for whom she has played half of her 14 seasons, winning two league titles.
But Fowles, 36, is an unrestricted free agent who could sign with any team. She and Lynx coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve were scheduled to meet this week, during the league's free agency negotiation period. Teams cannot announce signings until Feb. 1.
Fowles, who sat out half of the 2015 season to force a trade from Chicago to the Lynx, has spoken of her love of the franchise. The Lynx advanced to the playoffs last season, and Fowles showed no signs of slowing down. She averaged 16 points, her best in three years. Her 10.1 rebounding average was her best since 2018.
She averaged a career-high 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks while winning the league's defensive player of the year award for the fourth time, her second with the Lynx. She was the only player in the league to average at least 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks. She was named second-team all-WNBA and an All Star for the seventh time. She also won her fourth gold medal with Team USA at the Olympics in Japan.
After the season Fowles said she had to think about whether to return to play or to begin a family.
The Lynx began the free agency negotiation period with $432,198 in available salary cap space with three unrestricted free agents in Fowles, Layshia Clarendon and Rachel Banham.
Should the Lynx and Fowles agree to terms, much of that cap space — in the $200,000 range — would be used up signing her, but still leaving the Lynx room to address the point guard position, whether by re-signing Clarendon or exploring the free agent market.
Reeve and the Lynx also have to figure out how to make up for the loss of Napheesa Collier, who is pregnant and is likely to miss all of a 2022 season that has been condensed due to the World Cup in the fall.
Fowles has been the backbone of the team for most of her time in Minnesota. She was WNBA Finals MVP in 2015, when the Lynx won the third of four championships. In 2017, when they won their fourth, Fowles was MVP both of the regular season and the finals. She currently is first in league history in rebounds (3,712) and field goal percentage, fourth in blocks (685), seventh in minutes played and 13th in career points (5,983).