The Washington Mystics are 4-9 and lost nine of their last ten games. Barring a sudden improvement, they aren’t making the playoffs this season.
One of the biggest reasons why is due to Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders and Tina Charles sitting out the season due to injury, coronavirus risk or to pursue social justice causes. Few teams would do very well after losing three of their starters from last season and Charles, a one-time WNBA MVP who could have started.
And when the offseason happens, the Mystics won’t have the luxury of getting a high draft pick. The 2021 first round pick was traded to the Dallas Wings in a three-team trade for Charles. The Liberty holds Washington’s other two 2021 draft picks.
That said, one player has thrived: Myisha Hines-Allen. Because of her performance this season (16.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.2 apg on 50 percent shooting and 40 percent from the three point line), she makes things interesting with Washington’s free agency situation heading into next year.
Before this season began, we thought that Delle Donne would return along with Emma Meesseman and Charles to form a juggernaut frontcourt trio on paper. If all three played, Washington would probably remain one of the top teams in the standings.
Instead, Delle Donne and Charles are out. Meesseman is the only member of that group to return, but her play has regressed significantly in a contract year.
Speaking of which, Meesseman and Charles are both in contract years. They are both unrestricted free agents heading into the 2021 WNBA season. Meesseman is earning the supermax of $215,000 while Charles is earning $175,000. Because both have such large cap hits, it’s unlikely Washington can keep both Meesseman and Charles while paying them salaries at around this level.
Since Hines-Allen would be entering the fourth year of her career in 2021, she would still be on a rookie scale contract. Her performance this season could help make the Mystics’ offseason decisions just a little easier if they move on from Meesseman and/or Charles next year.
The Mystics have a lot of questions to answer after this season, especially if they don’t make the playoffs. They could have traded the first pick of the 2021 Draft away to the Wings and can’t pick anyone up barring trades. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s all doom and gloom.
Delle Donne will be back along with Ariel Atkins. And I’m hopeful Cloud does too since she’s a free agent. And finally, regardless of whether the Mystics keep Meesseman and/or Charles, it will be a very good thing seeing Hines-Allen playing a major role next year, and hopefully for years to come.