Yesterday, the news cycle stole my thunder by reporting that Breanna Stewart is meeting with the Washington Mystics, possibly as soon as today. Today, we will discuss some of the top free agents whom Washington could consider.
Don’t expect any big-time guards to come Washington’s way
Of the Mystics players on guaranteed contracts, the starting backcourt of Cloud and Atkins will be back. So we are not going to entertain Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley who are better offensive players and shooters, but not as great defenders. And let’s be honest, do we want to replace the best defending backcourt with two players in the twilight of their careers?
True centers aren’t coming to D.C. either!
Also, we have to consider that Shakira Austin had a great 2022 rookie season, so they probably won’t pick a center. So that removes players like Brittney Griner, who is expected to return to play this year after missing last season due to her detention in Russia.
If Washington signs a big-time free agent, it’s a forward
My feeling is that the Mystics may go after forwards who can produce offense, whether for themselves or their teammates. The easiest way to sign a free agent forward to a max is to let Alysha Clark go to another team, or see if she will sign for a lower amount next season. For the purposes of this post, we will assume that Clark does not return to the Mystics in 2023.
Here are some players General Manager Mike Thibault may want to call with a maximum salary.
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Why the Mystics want her: Stewie has played her entire career with the Storm and she is considered to be the top free agent in this class. Some teams like the Liberty are coveting her the most. If she came to Washington, it would likely be on a max deal.
Why she would want to play for Washington: The Mystics had the best defense in the league last year and would still be quite strong on that end without Clark. Stewart would be the offensive boost and could form a lethal dynamic duo with Elena Delle Donne. This duo could be better than the 2019 duo of EDD and Emma Meesseman. Playing and winning with Washington also allows Stewart to build her legacy without Sue Bird, who is regarded as the Storm’s greatest of all time, aka the GOAT.
Why she wouldn’t play for Washington: There are rumors stating that Stewart doesn’t want to make her decision until Vandersloot makes hers. I’ve already ruled Vanderloot out because she is a guard, a position Washington doesn’t need. If Vandersloot decides to stay in Chicago, then would that sway Stewart to open up a meeting with Chicago’s brass?
Emma Meesseman, Chicago Sky
Why the Mystics want her: She is the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP and is in her prime. Last season, Meesseman was the Sky’s best player (don’t listen to the media saying Candace Parker was). Emma started all season, was her normal efficient self all season, and got another All-Star berth.
Why she would want to play for Washington: In short, perhaps Meesseman would want to go to a team where she’d still be the best player, but also realize that she isn’t the franchise player (that’s Delle Donne). Maybe Meesseman could be the catalyst to help Washington get another championship, but she’d be the top option (if she wanted to), this time.
Why she wouldn’t play for Washington: Well, Meesseman’s talent isn’t an issue. It’s her availability. With Belgium on track to make Women’s EuroBasket this summer, that means she is missing at least another month, if she decides to play 2023 at all. And in 2019, as you may recall, she took a back seat to Delle Donne. Is that going to happen again?
Candace Parker, Chicago Sky
Why the Mystics want her: She has only played two seasons in the Windy City and got a championship in 2021. I don’t think she’d come to Washington to be honest, but she would be a good facilitator from the wing alongside Delle Donne.
Why she would want to play for Washington: This one is tough, because Parker has no previous ties with the Mystics. The closest thing I can think of is that Parker was on the 2008 USA Basketball women’s national team, where GM Mike Thibault was also an assistant coach.
Why she wouldn’t play for Washington: Parker has no ties with the DMV. And the Sky seem ready to do what it takes to keep her this season until she retires.
Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks
Why the Mystics want her: She would be an additional post presence alongside Shakira Austin and provide more offense. A three-player frontcourt lineup of Delle Donne, Ogwumike and Austin would be among the most feared in the WNBA on paper.
Why she would want to play for Washington: The Sparks have declined in the last couple seasons and it’s unclear what new head coach Curt Miller will do, though he is a great head coach. Washington has a well-run organization and stability, which could be something she is looking for, assuming Ogwumike is looking to move elsewhere.
Why she wouldn’t play for Washington: Like Parker, Ogwumike doesn’t have ties with the DMV or the East. If she wanted to do the “hometown” play, the Dallas Wings would be that team because she is from Texas.
These are far from the only players whom the Mystics could be considering. Who would you like the Mystics to go after in free agency? Let us know in the comments below.