The Lynx were fresh off thier fourth championship in seven years after getting revenge on the LA Sparks in one of the best WNBA Finals in history. Once again, it went to a decisive Game five.
The Lynx were ready to return most of their bench for the 2018 season and to try and defend their championship and be the first team to go back to back since 2000-2001 when the LA Sparks went back to back.
Then it was announced that Jia Perkins and Plenette Pierson were going to ride off into the sunset and retire just a couple of months after they were a part of the Fourth championship. This wasn’t shocking news, most fans and a lot of Lynx fans thought that with the Lynx winning, both Jia and Plenette would retire.
So heading into free agency the Lynx were ready to re-sign and keep a big piece of their bench in Renee Montgomery. That took a quick turn as Renee decided to sign with the Atlanta Dream, heading closer to home and closer to family. She signed with the Dream on the first day that free agents could sign new deals.
So now what? The Lynx have now lost three key pieces to their Championship team in a short time.
On February 7th was the day the Lynx made a few splashes in the free agency market and also making a trade. They first signed Lynette Kizer, who battled through injuries last season, while playing for the Connecticut Sun. As she battled through injuries, Kizer only managed to play 20 games for the Sun. In those 20 games she averaged; 6ppg, 2.9 rpg while averaging 11 minutes per game. In 2016 while playing for the Indiana Fever, she had averaged 17.2 mpg, 9.6ppg, and 3.2 rpg, while playing in all 33 games, starting 12 of them.
The Lynx traded Natasha Howard to the Seattle Storm, and their 17th pick in the 2018 draft, and the right to swap 1st round picks with the Storm in the 2019. The trade was a bit of a surprise for most Lynx fans and fans around the WNBA. Howard had shown glimpses of potential with the Lynx over the last two years, but just could never put it all together while here in Minnesota.
Now the Lynx were without their second unit back court due to Perkins retiring and Montgomery signing with the Dream, and without their two backup forwards with Pierson retiring and the Howard trade.
The Lynx made a surprising trade on March 6th with one of their rivals in recent years the Phoenix Mercury as they acquired Danielle Robinson, along with the Mercury’s 2nd round pick in 2019, in return the Mercury received the Lynx 1st round pick (#12 overall) in the 2018 draft. Robinson a six year guard out of Oklahoma. She played just one season in Phoenix, and played her other five seasons in San Antonio. During her one season in a Mercury jersey, Robinson played in 32 games and averaged 23.5 mpg, 2.9 rpg, 3.4 apg and 6.9 ppg. It was her lowest points average in her career, but it was also her first season back after a major Achilles injury.
With acquiring Robinson, the Lynx all of a sudden had their back up point guard and a pretty quick one at that. She isn’t known for her three point shooting as she had not hit a 3 point shot in her 6 seasons, as she is 0-33 from behind the three point line, unlike Montgomery who was known for her three point shooting. But she can run an offense as well if not better. Her speed will be something the Lynx have never really had with a player before. She will take the Lynx offense up a notch and open up the transition game for the team. She will also be able to drive and kick to the Lynx shooters in the corner or on the blocks. She can also drive to the basket and finish at the rim. On the defensive end she will create a lot of deflections and tips, which will create easy transition baskets for herself and her teammates.
On March 13th the Lynx added another veteran in Tanisha Wright. Wright was an WNBA All- Defensive 1st team in 2009,2010,2011,2013 and WNBA All-Defensive 2nd team in 2015,2016. Wright who took the 2017 season off to heal and rest, started to get back into the gym in January. It was said she wanted to come back and play. The Lynx got wind of that and went after her and then signed her. Wright last played in 2016 when she played for the New York Liberty, she averaged 23 mpg, 2.3 rpg, 6.7ppg.
Now with Robinson and Wright, the Lynx have their “new” back court unit. Both players are known more for their defense, than their scoring. So it seems like the Lynx went with defensive players for their second unit this season. But both can still score and create their own shot. Wright is more so the three point shooter between these two.
With the season opener just weeks away the biggest key if the Lynx want to defend and repeat, is going to be if Robinson, Wright and Kizer can gel together as the pieces of the second unit for the Lynx, if all three of them can stay healthy during the season. IF they do, don’t be surprised if we are talking about the Lynx in the Finals again come September.