WNBA

Wings Have Little Flexibility in Free Agency

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Each week over the first three months of the offseason, we will look at what each team has in store for free agency. We will look at pending free agents. Then we consider who may be a logical target for them to bring in. This series will start in standings order for the teams that missed the postseason and then go in order of elimination when it comes to playoff teams. We have looked at the New York Liberty, Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks, Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever. Today we finish the first round of the playoffs with the Dallas Wings.

At long last, the Wings made it back to the postseason. They entered the season with a plan of playoffs or bust. Despite finishing 14-18, they were able to achieve the goal. So now, the only team with too many players heading into next season has to find a way to improve.

The Plan Forward

For the first (and only) time in this series of articles, there are no pending free agents to discuss. They enter the offseason with 13 contracts for 12 spots and only $15,372 in cap space. This is the lowest figure in the league, with the next closest being the Los Angeles Sparks at $157,417. Complicated things further they have a fourteenth salary committed to the waived (and recent champion) Astou Ndour-Fall.

This is the situation that the team has gotten itself into by drafting so many rookies in consecutive seasons. Now they need to try to consolidate some of their players to take the next step. With two current All-Stars on rookie contracts in Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally, now should be the time to make a move towards contention.

The most likely players to be traded in most scenarios may not be the ones fans should expect the Wings to move on from. Much was made about starting Moriah Jefferson for far too long, but she is the highest-paid player on the team and is unlikely to draw much trade interest. Kayla Thornton, Allisha Gray and Isabelle Harrison are the other three protected veterans on the team and each played an essential role this season.

Parting Thoughts

There is an unfortunate truth for the Dallas Wings. They may be required to renounce the rights to some of their unprotected players simply to field a legal team. Marina Mabrey was a breakout player in the early half of the season before chaffing under head coach Vickie Johnson. Fans saw precious little of any of their first-round picks this season despite flashes being shown by Charli Collier, Awak Kuier and Chelsea Dungee. The rookies have been impressive overseas so far during the offseason, making their lack of playing time even more frustrating.

The issues with this team run deep. They committed heavily to youth in terms of roster spots but then prioritized winning in the short term over development. Whether it be President Greg Bibb, Coach Johnson or the hero-ball styling of Ogunbowale, the youth of the team was not put in a position to thrive.

The team has to make building a team more of a priority. Simply winning enough games to sneak into the postseason is not enough. For an organization that has never won a playoff game in their current city (the franchise last won a postseason game as the Tulsa Shock in 2015) sustainability should be the priority. The onus falls on everyone involved to take the next step.

About Corey Rausch

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