Normally, I don’t write about moves made by WNBA teams other than the Washington Mystics on this site. But some signings could shed some light on what the future holds for the defending 2019 champions.
On Monday, the Indiana Fever announced they signed Julie Allemand, their 2016 third round draft pick, to a multi-year contract. Allemand has received a few mentions on this site because she is a point guard on the Belgium women’s national team, the same squad that Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh will lead into this summer’s Olympics.
I’ll leave it to Rachel Galligan of HERO Sports to analyze what Allemand will provide for Indiana, but the signing could provide some insight on Meesseman’s future in the WNBA. I don’t anticipate Mestdagh coming back given cap space, and the fact that she played limited minutes last season.
The most notable thing about Allemand’s signing with Indiana, besides the Belgian connection, is that Fever head coach Marianne Stanley was an assistant coach for the Mystics during Meesseman’s early years. Though Stanley is primarily a post coach specialist, that previous connection may have made things a little easier for Allemand to sign with the team that drafted her four years ago.
But here’s the most notable thing. It’s that the Koninklijke Belgische Basketbalbond, or the Fédération Royale Belge des Sociétés de Basketball (The Royal Belgian Basketball Association in Dutch and French, respectively) is apparently more pro-WNBA than its counterparts from other European countries like France and Spain. Or at the very least, they are encouraging their non-naturalized players to play in the WNBA.
They’ve seen Meesseman’s development in the WNBA and how it transformed their national team from European afterthoughts to world powers in just a couple years.
There is a national team incentive at play for Belgium. Sure, the pay isn’t very high in the WNBA compared with some of the Russian and Turkish superpowers, but the experience and competition in the WNBA is better, and it could help their players get more of an edge for the Olympics this summer (barring a cancellation) and for future EuroBasket tournaments.
The Belgian women’s national basketball team will have as many as four players with WNBA experience this summer. Besides Meesseman, Mestdagh and Allemand, veteran center Ann Wauters played several seasons in the WNBA as well.
Ultimately, if Allemand enjoys her experience with the Fever this season and stays there for 2021, it could be an incentive for Meesseman to stay in the WNBA beyond this season. Previously, it seemed as if she was positioning herself to retire.
While that is still likely the case, Allemand’s arrival could be a morale boost, and it could be something to make Meesseman feel a little more at home in America during the summer, even if Mestdagh doesn’t return.
However, the Fever are a rising team, while Washington can only go down at this point. That’s the reality for the defending champions. If Meesseman likes what is happening with the Fever with Allemand (and she really wants to play there), it could make her consider signing with the Fever instead next season, or demand a trade to the Fever if Washington cores her.
Do you think that Allemand’s arrival to the Indiana Fever gives Meesseman “cause to pause” on her WNBA future? Or do you think Meesseman stays loyal to D.C. if she decides to stay in the WNBA after this season? Let us know in the comments below.