On Wednesday, Mike Max of WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported that Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore wasn’t committed to remaining with the Lynx. More specifically, she was open to retiring from the WNBA, taking a year off, or requesting a trade to another team. The announcement came soon after the WNBA officially announced that she was cored.
Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve then wrote a short statement addressing the WCCO-TV report regarding their plans with Moore.
By being a cored player, Moore cannot sign her next contract with any other team but the Lynx. However, she is guaranteed a maximum salary of $117,500 by doing so according to the WNBA’s current collective bargaining agreement.
The news has fired up the WNBA rumor mill and could make this year’s free agency period more exciting than most years. I wrote about the implications of WNBA Free Agency from a high-level on Swish Appeal last week so you can get a feel of what every team is facing heading into Free Agency. And SB Nation NBA’s Matt Ellentuck also has more on what Moore’s non-committal to the Lynx means for the WNBA as a whole. Read all the pixels below.
While we’re digesting this for a second, things are looking quite good for the Mystics in terms of their WNBA championship hopes. They are coming off their first WNBA Finals appearance in franchise appearance and franchise player Elena Delle Donne is in her prime. With starting point guard Kristi Toliver now coaching for the Wizards and still in great form, it’s clear that Washington knows who they are building around over the next two to three years. Moore will turn 30 this year and is still in her prime.
So I’ll cut to the chase.
A Delle Donne, Toliver, and Moore trio could be that group to lead the Mystics over the hump and win the WNBA championship!
With Moore cored, she has to re-sign with the Lynx. But she can still be traded elsewhere. So let’s assume that Moore wants to get traded somewhere else and she’s open to going to Washington.
Here are three hypothetical scenarios that would involve the Mystics getting Moore.
Trade Scenario 1: The Lynx sign and trade Maya Moore to the Mystics for Emma Meesseman and Washington’s 2019 first round pick
In this deal, the Mystics get Moore to solidify a true superstar to go alongside Delle Donne. But they will let go of Meesseman whose prime is still ahead of her and get the 10th pick in this year’s draft. Considering that Lindsay Whalen retired while Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson are declining, the Lynx are going to have to retool with youth and an extra pick will help them as well.
This trade is the classic “Ernie Grunfeld Special” where a first round pick goes with a big contract, Meesseman in this case. In fact, Meesseman is going to be the “big contract trade chip” in every scenario because the Mystics aren’t letting Delle Donne or Toliver go, right?
This move will show the league that the Mystics aren’t playing around with their immediate term goal: WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. The next couple years at the new arena at St. Elizabeth’s will be exciting indeed now that the team has two franchise level superstars and still has sufficient depth to go far.
The Lynx certainly would want Meesseman for her talent alone. But like I’ve indicated over the past several months, teams are going to be wary about picking up a European talent when the WNBA schedule doesn’t break for continental tournaments. Meesseman and the Belgian team are in next year’s Women’s EuroBasket, so she is likely missing half of next year. So Minnesota will want more than just Meesseman, regardless of how great she becomes. That’s why the 2019 first round pick would have to be a sweetener in the deal.
For the Mystics, this is probably the best possible deal while keeping the core intact which includes WNBA All-Rookie team and All-Defensive team selection Ariel Atkins. But for Lynx fans, they will feel cheated a bit knowing Meesseman’s availability will be a concern. So let’s move to another scenario that still involves a Moore for Meesseman scenario.
Trade Scenario 2: The Lynx sign and trade Maya Moore to the Mystics for Emma Meesseman and Ariel Atkins
In this case, the Mystics will still let Meesseman go. But they will keep their 2019 first round pick. Instead, they will have to part ways with Atkins, their most prized young player.
Picking up Atkins would be fair for the Lynx because Minnesota wouldn’t have to worry about her availability due to international tournaments. And for Atkins, she is still going to a great organization in the Lynx. Cheryl Reeve is one of the WNBA’s best coaches and Atkins should have plenty of playing time in Minnesota. In Washington, she may end up being a reserve depending on how lineups shake out.
Trade Scenario 3: The Lynx sign and trade Maya Moore and Cecilia Zandalasini to the Mystics for Emma Meesseman, Ariel Atkins, Tianna Hawkins and their 2019 first round pick
Sometimes, two teams make a trade that involves many players. And this deal is just that. We’ll keep the Moore for Meesseman foundation. But the Mystics will have to give up a lot more for Moore.
In this case, the Lynx get a best case scenario given the circumstances. They will get the Mystics’ best young player (Atkins), a post player who can attack the boards and stretch the floor (Hawkins), AND they’ll get the 10th pick in this year’s draft.
Washington does get one more player in this deal, namely Italian forward Cecilia Zandalasini. She is a 22-year old forward who averaged 5.7 points and 1.9 rebounds last season. In the winter, Zandalasini plays for Turkish KBSL team Fenerbahçe who’s in the EuroLeague Women competition continentally. And she is starting for Fenerbahce. Zandalasini is a reserved player which means she can only sign with the Lynx because she has less than four years of WNBA experience. So like Moore, she would be signed and traded in this scenario.
Getting Zandalasini would be a nice grab for the Mystics and she wouldn’t be asked to carry the franchise and she wouldn’t have to start for them. But Zandalasini is a young talent who could be one of Europe’s best in a few years and make a good impact for them when she isn’t in the Women’s EuroBasket.
So there are three scenarios that would involve Maya Moore coming to Washington if it happened. What do you think about the possibilities if she does want to leave Minnesota and go to the nation’s capital? Let us know in the comments below.