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As players begin to opt out of the shortened season, teams must adapt to fill out their roster before going into the single-site location at IMG Academy next month. Coaches will also have to consider players who they would normally sign midway through the season; it’s unclear whether teams will be able to add to their roster with players outside the “bubble” once the season kicks off.
Players have until June 25 to notify the league if they want to opt out of this season. Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream was the first player to publicly announce her decision to sit out. Montgomery will be focusing on social justice reform, she announced on Twitter last Thursday. The Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics, who both made it to the finals last year, lost starters on Monday, as Jonquel Jones of the Sun and Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders of the Mystics announced they will not be playing this year for various reasons. On Tuesday, Tiffany Hayes said that she would be joining her Dream teammate in sitting out this season.
Last year, 157 players logged minutes in the WNBA. Who might teams sign who aren’t currently on a roster? It’s important to note that we don’t actually know if these free agents want to play in the single-site location. There would have to be interest on both sides.
Essence Carson (Guard)
Carson’s numbers dipped from 2018 to 2019 as she transitioned from LA to Phoenix and dealt with an injury later in the season, but she’s a veteran player with championship experience and a tough mentality. She’s also an established and reliable perimeter shooter. Phoenix decided to go in a different direction, but it’s surprising Carson hasn’t signed somewhere else.
2019 WNBA stats: 5.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.5 APG in 18.5 MPG
Tamera Young (Forward)
Young was an important role player for Vegas the last two seasons, and some fans were disappointed to not see her re-signed. Young recorded two double-digit scoring efforts in the postseason last year and led the team in assists in three regular-season games.
2019 WNBA stats: 5.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0 APG in 18.5 MPG
Brittany Boyd (Guard)
The Liberty waived Boyd in April shortly after drafting Sabrina Ionescu with the No. 1 overall pick and signing Layshia Clarendon. It was clear the Liberty were looking in a new direction at point guard despite Boyd’s five solid years in New York. Boyd ranked eighth overall in assists per game in the league last year, and averaged 13.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game for Elitzur Ramla in Israel this WNBA offseason.
2019 WNBA stats: 5.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG in 19.7 MPG
Betnijah Laney (Forward/Guard)
The Fever released Laney last week after signing the four-year veteran to a new contract in February. The team needed to make room in order to activate Stephanie Mavunga, who was suspended for a non-WNBA injury. Laney, known for her tenacious defense, had the best season of her career in all regards in one year with Indiana.
2019 WNBA stats: 5.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG in 25.8 MPG
Reshanda Gray (Forward)
The New York Liberty waived Gray as it revamped the roster with six rookies. In her first full season back in the WNBA after a three-year hiatus, Gray made an impression on a young squad and their fans. She started ten games, grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in an early-season game, and ended the year shooting 47.3% from the field.
2019 WNBA stats: 5.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG in 15.3 MPG
Te’a Cooper (Guard)
Phoenix drafted Cooper No. 18 overall, but didn’t include her in its final roster. A graduate transfer at Baylor for her final college season, she had the best statistical season of her career and was a crucial player for the defending national champions. She led the team in points and three-pointers and was a top-five finalist for the Naismith/WBCA Nancy Lieberman Award for the country’s best point guard.
2019 stats at Baylor: 13.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.7 SPG; 41.5% 3PT
Stella Johnson (Guard)
Phoenix drafted Johnson No. 29 overall after she led NCAA Division I in scoring this year. Johnson finished her college career with back-to-back MAAC Player of the Year honors, and was a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award and Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award. During her senior year, she was the only active Division I player with 2,000 career points, 700 career rebounds, 400 career assists, and 300 career steals, and she was on the verge of leading Rider to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
2019 stats at Rider: 24.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.9 SPG
Jaylyn Agnew (Forward)
Agnew was a force for Creighton, especially during her senior year. She was named Big East Player of the Year after a stellar season, and earned AP All-American honorable mention recognition. A versatile forward, Agnew ranked nationally in the top 20 for 3-pointers made, and made 76 of her 80 free throw attempts, leading the NCAA in free-throw percentage. The reigning WNBA champion Washington Mystics drafted Agnew in the second round at No. 24 overall, making her Creighton’s first WNBA draftee.
2019 stats at Creighton: 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.3 APG
Other free agents who could find a team before the end of the season: Kaela Davis, Shavonte Zellous, Alaina Coates, Kamiah Smalls, Joyner Holmes, Karlie Samuelson, Paris Kea, Kelsey Bone, Erica McCall