On Thursday, the WNBA and WNBPA issued a short statement which is below:
We are making substantial progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement which we expect to finalize soon. In the meantime, we have extended the current agreement through January 15, 2020 and expect that free agency contract signings will begin on time on February 1, 2020.
For the WNBA, this is good news. The most important thing is that the owners are unlikely to start a lockout and the players aren’t likely to strike. The league is likely to make some accommodations for air travel, hotel rooms (inexperienced players generally have roommates) and even compensation.
But players, whose demands have been quite vocal last year, are likely being scaled back a tad to fit the practicality of the owners’ situations.
For the Mystics, it’s good news that they will get to begin the 2020 WNBA season with no procedural interruptions. However, if this team expects to win the title this season or become a dynasty, they will need this CBA to become international friendly.
Washington’s top priority should be to convince Emma Meesseman that the WNBA is where she needs focus her energy on as a professional basketball player. I don’t think she would leave the Mystics for another WNBA team, but it’s certainly possible that she may never return stateside, spring championship parade aside (and even then I’m not sure she’ll make it given how UMMC Ekaterinburg is).
The Mystics have a shot to be a dynasty, but it’s also clear that Meesseman has to be their central figure going forward since she’s just 26. The Finals MVP award showed the tip of the iceberg on what she can do over the next five to six years.
Most of the other key players on Washington’s team are older. Elena Delle Donne is the bigger name right now and the defending MVP. But she has a worrisome injury history and is now on the wrong side of 30. Kristi Toliver is entering her mid 30s. LaToya Sanders is already there age-wise.
Since they probably won’t be a sub-10 win team anytime soon (I’m not predicting that in 2020 folks!), it’s not like a lottery draft pick is falling in their lap. So Meesseman is their most important piece. Along with some of Washington’s younger veterans like Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, they should be the foundation as older veterans move toward the twilight of their careers.
A new CBA is great for the WNBA and its players, especially if pay and travel accommodation concerns are properly addressed. But I’m just as interested in the specifics on what it means to non-American players, even Canadians and the WNBA’s global growth. Even if you don’t care about how players in Belgium, France or Spain feel about the WNBA’s scheduling conflicts, then you should because of its implications for the Mystics and their aspirations to win more than just one championship.