The Washington Mystics’ 2023 year began with promise but ultimately was a mediocre season derailed by injuries. Do I see next year being a positive for Washington’s WNBA team? Let’s take a look below.
Prediction 1: The Mystics re-sign Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud, but not at max salaries
Washington begins the 2024 free agency period with five to six open roster spots and three protected veteran spots available. Along with about $639,809 in cap space according to Her Hoop Stats. That’s not a lot of room for the Mystics to make any significant moves.
Delle Donne was the Mystics’ highest paid player last year with $234,350 but is an unrestricted free agent. She has accomplished all of the major accolades for her career, from MVPs, to Gold Medals and a WNBA championship. I think she will spend the rest of her career in Washington, but will do so by taking a lower salary in the hopes that the Mystics can add another free agent.
Natasha Cloud is coming off a career season where she made $190,000 in 2023. Like Delle Donne, Cloud has been happy to be in D.C. by all accounts, so I see her resigning as well. However, for the Mystics to be in position to get a significant free agent, she too will have to take a lower salary.
Prediction 2: Myisha Hines-Allen will be on the proverbial “hot seat” as she enters a contract year
The Mystics could be in prime position to make a big move in 2024 if they had multiple All-Stars. Last year, they had none, partly because of the injuries. But I don’t see them willing to move Brittney Sykes or Ariel Atkins who are making up to $200,000 each.
Of the remaining players on contract for 2024, Myisha Hines-Allen is making $180,200 next season on the last year of her three-year near-max contract, but I don’t see the Mystics being able to move her.
Since her 2020 All-WNBA season, Hines-Allen has either been often-injured like in 2021 and hasn’t played like she did in the Florida bubble. She shot just 34 percent from the field in 2023, coming off knee surgery. Furthermore, Hines-Allen’s on a guaranteed contract, so the Mystics can’t cut her and see that money go to another free agent.
Since the Mystics probably can’t sign another All-Star player outright if they bring back Delle Donne and Cloud to veteran salaries in the $120 to $150,000 range, Hines-Allen has an opportunity to be the “X Factor” if they make a marked improvement in the standings next season.
Prediction 3: Ariel Atkins is the only Mystics player on the USA Basketball women’s national team for the 2024 Olympics
I feel this is a safe bet. Atkins was a member of the 2020 Olympic team where she played the role of defensive stopper on a team full of ball dominant players. I see her making the team again this summer, barring injury of course.
Prediction 4: The Mystics make the playoffs and host a playoff game. But will lose in the semifinals
Can you believe that the Mystics haven’t hosted postseason basketball at the Entertainment & Sports Arena since 2019? I can’t either.
Given that I see most of the 2023 core returning and more motivated than ever to do better than last season, I think the Mystics will finally get the camel off their backs and host a playoff game. They won’t get swept like each of the last two years in the first round.
However, the Mystics don’t have the sheer amount of star talent that top ranked teams like the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty have. I’d also put the Dallas Wings ahead of them too. So I’d imagine that the Mystics’ playoff run ends in the semifinals.
What predictions do you have in 2024 for the Mystics? Let us know in the comments below.