How do Dream Deal With Newest Nightmare?


Capping off the season much in the same way they experienced the rest of the year, the Atlanta Dream stepped in some controversy this week. Courtney Williams posted footage of a fight on YouTube that involved multiple members of the team. This led to Renee Montgomery going on the halftime show and discussing the situation. The full video can be found below:

Essentially pushing this off and into the hands of the league and the WNBAPA left fans wanting more. The situation around the Dream has been rough all season. Chennedy Carter has still not been heard from since being suspended in the middle of a game more than three months ago. There still is no general manager in place. Now there are unconfirmed reports regarding the fact that Williams and Crystal Bradford will not be brought back.

These are unconfirmed because when they were brought up to Montgomery they were glossed over for the spin of the organization. That is part of her job as the owner of the team making a public appearance for the team. As is investigating a tenuous situation months ago rather than being reactionary when the video makes its way to TMZ. However, criticizing the public statements gets us nowhere. With all this playing out in the public forum, figuring out what goes on from here is necessary.

What does this mean for Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford?

First, this is an awful break for Crystal Bradford. She had last appeared in the WNBA in the 2015 season and has since been playing overseas in an attempt to get back into the league. She has played in Finland, Israel and Turkey. There was also a season with the Global Women’s Basketball league, where she was the Finals MVP.

For a player to battle all the way back into the league and finally earn an opportunity, then have the legs cut out from under her because of a teammate’s poor decision-making is rough. Bradford did her best to be a good teammate and make a positive impact on an organization lacking in positives.

Williams was the theoretical leader of the team, the newly minted All-Star. Posting the video on her YouTube channel was illogical. It showed no regard for the ramifications it would have on herself and others.

This is not the first controversy to place Williams at the center of it. Earlier this season the blowup between her and teammate Chennedy Carter led to the current exile of the latter. Her time with the Connecticut Sun came to something of a rocky end as well. For a player hoping to enter free agency and cash in on her first All-Star berth, puzzling does not begin to describe the decision to post the video. It calls into question the type of investment teams may choose to make in her, if any at all.

What does this mean for the Atlanta Dream?

As has been all season, the Dream are essentially flying by the seats of their pants. Deciding to move on from two of their many pending free agents before the season has wrapped for the entire league is a choice. Williams led the team in (16.5), rebounds (6.8) and assists (4.0) per game. She was also second in 3-point shooting percentage (38.2). For a team that has not had any form of continuity, this is part of the norm.

The Dream have made it clear they want to establish an identity of accountability and professionalism. If Montgomery said nothing else, it was that they want mutual trust and want the organization to grow. This makes the lack of deeper investigation into the issue at hand months ago even more confusing, but that is water under the bridge at this point. Now they must find a General Manager and head coach before making any additional personnel moves.

This offseason is an essential one for the new ownership group to reset their culture, despite the mess they expected coming into the year. The team fired their GM in April. Nicki Collen left the team weeks before the season. However, even grading on a curve this year is a failure. Carter is not blameless in the situation, but seemingly losing the fourth pick in the draft from a season ago who looked dynamic as a rookie is a disaster.

Final Thoughts

Turning over much of the roster and still losing her seems like the most likely outcome Bradford and Williams are not the only pending free agents. Blake Dietrick, Candice Dupree, Tiffany Hayes, Odyssey Sims, Shekinna Stricklen and Elizabeth Williams are all unrestricted. Monique Billings is a restricted free agent as well. This sets the next leadership to rebuild their franchise around promising rookie Aari McDonald. For her sake, the Dream need to turn stability into a reality.

No longer can the leadership group make the excuses that they are new. It is time to stop using Renee Montgomery as the public face of the franchise and a hype machine if the issues at hand are not going to be appropriately addressed. The WNBA is home to some of the most positive and passionate fans in the world. However, that does not mean that the complete mishandling and lack of investigation into the situation should be allowed.

About Corey Rausch

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