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WNBA Free Agency 2021: The Mystics signed Alysha Clark in part because Aerial Powers wavered on a verbal commitment to return

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General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault gave a blunt analysis on how the Mystics signed Clark and decided not to retain Aerial Powers.

Seattle Storm v Washington Mystics
Alysha Clark signed with the Washington Mystics due to the on-court fit and also because Washington is near more political power where she can take part in more activist causes.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday, the Washington Mystics had a press conference with General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault and forward Alysha Clark. We’ll first go over Clark’s reactions to signing with the Mystics, which was positive. Then we’ll go over the timeline on how they came to signing Clark and how they also had a falling out with Aerial Powers during free agency negotiations.

Clark is signing with the Mystics to win a championship. Washington also allows her to pursue some of her other interests.

In the press conference, two things stuck out about why Clark signed with the Mystics besides money, which we’ll get to later. First, she signed here because of the on-court fit and the team’s family culture.

Clark’s recruitment to D.C. came as early as last year during the WNBA’s Orlando bubble. Players like Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud were encouraging her to consider D.C. even though they weren’t in the bubble themselves.

That said, the Mystics’ front office did not negotiate with Clark until the free agency period began.

When we see Clark on the court for Washington this season, she will form a trio of lockdown defenders with Cloud and Ariel Atkins, both of whom were All-Defensive team selections themselves, All three can make threes at a good rate and pass the ball to the right shooter at the right time. So Clark’s addition will keep the Mystics in the conversation for the championship race this year.

Clark also mentioned that she looked forward to getting involved with activism causes in Washington, D.C. Since Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States, she will have proximity to that power, which she didn’t have as much of in Seattle. Last November, I wrote a piece about how political activism could make Washington a more attractive destination for NBA free agents, but it seems like the Mystics have already beat the Wizards in that regard already.

She also looked forward to being in what she called her first big city. After that statement, own Gabe Ibrahim was also in the call, asked Clark to clarify her comments since Seattle is in a decent sized market. Its metro area is the 15th largest in the United States. Clark backtracked a bit, noting that Seattle has more of a neighborhood vibe, while D.C., especially downtown is more of a big city.

Regardless, I’m excited to see Clark in a Mystics uniform making defensive stops and draining threes for us instead of against us!

The Mystics signed Clark, partly because Powers’ interest in them wavered

Thibault reiterated Washington’s goal during this season’s free agency period: Bring back the 2019 team that won the WNBA championship. Regarding Powers specifically, they received a verbal commitment from her to come back in the first six days of free agency. But she soon became hesitant, and he felt “a bit strung” by her.

At around the same time, the Mystics learned that Clark was seriously considering leaving Seattle and the enthusiasm from Clark’s agent, who coincidentally is the same one as Powers’, grew while Powers continued to be non-committal.

Because he didn’t want to be left “holding the bag” where the Mystics could lose Powers AND not have Clark, Thibault moved quickly. He got Clark to agree to sign with Washington as soon as possible (which was today) and Powers ultimately announced that she would sign with the Minnesota Lynx last week.

Though the Mystics weren’t able to retain Powers, ultimately, their moves were about business and making a run at one more championship in 2021.