Lynx

Lynx Face Hard Decisions, Cuts Ahead of Opening Night

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The Minnesota Lynx will make hard decisions in 2022 in pursuit of one last title for Sylvia Fowles.

Stuck against a hard cap, there is little room for changes without gutting the 2021 three seed. Young star Napheesa Collier is due to give birth to her first child soon and is expected to miss significant time, sharpshooter Kayla McBride will arrive late due to overseas commitments that could extend nearly a month after opening tip and Damiris Dantas is still recovering from a foot injury sustained in 2021 with no clear timetable.

Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve is shorthanded before a game is even played.

Hard Caps and Hard Cuts

Following the signing of Angel McCoughtry, the Lynx were forced to choose who would not return for this upcoming season. Without any salary-cap relief, someone had to go. That was evident when Reeve traded the eighth and 13th picks in the 2022 WNBA Draft to Las Vegas for their 2023 first- and second-round picks.

“We believe this year’s draft is a good draft, however, with the players that we currently have under contract and the limited roster space remaining, we made the decision to turn our attention to future opportunities,” Reeve said in the release following the pick swap.

But with their remaining picks, the Lynx brought in NC State’s Kayla Jones and South Dakota’s Hannah Sjerven, a Minnesota native.

Training camp seemed to be going well. Multiple returning Lynx players stated the team came in better prepared to hit the ground running in camp compared to the prior year. Fowles praised the rookies for being more prepared than several previous classes. But Reeve said prior to the draft she was looking to build with “very experienced players.”

Despite good showings in the two preseason games, both drafted rookies as well as a few on training camp invites were waived. This even included 2021 draft pick Rennia Davis, who sat out that season with a foot injury, despite a double-double performance in the final preseason game.

The true shock, however, came at point guard. The Lynx signed Odyssey Sims to return after a one-year stint in Atlanta. The team also waived 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield and 2021 hero Layshia Clarendon.

Reeve regretted having to let either go, but could not figure either player into the plan when crunching the cap numbers. Though detail is vague, Reeve believed Clarendon’s injury late in the 2021 season had not sufficiently healed to allow the veteran point guard to be completely available to start the season.

While the third-year Dangerfield was quite simply a victim of the hard cap.

Hardships

The cuts brought the roster to a final form due to the league on Friday. The team is requesting two hardship exceptions to be able to complete a 10-player roster. Coach Reeve is aware of this and stated that they were going to have to be flexible.

Players may come from those cut in camp once waivers clear. Veteran point guard Yvonne Turner has returned already. But struggles in scoring and defensive lapses may have the Lynx looking elsewhere to fill gaps. Nikolina Milić, veteran EuroLeague center, will make her WNBA debut as a hardship exception.

The roster the Lynx submitted to the league on Friday is an incomplete product. Coach Reeve will adjust the team as the season goes on through hardship contracts and possibly more cuts. The 2022 Lynx remains a work in progress until Collier rejoins the team.

Whenever that may be.

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About Corbitt Harrell

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