In some ways, the Kelsey Plum situation has been resolved. The Summitt has learned that Plum will fly to San Antonio, as previously planned, and plans to sign with the team.
But the fallout from a process that included significant trade talks as late as today, a divided front office concerning how to properly deploy Plum, and lingering bitterness over it all, as the sharply critical comments from Plum’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, revealed in an interview late Thursday afternoon.
“San Antonio is saying they took her and plan to play all three together,” Colas told The Summitt. “You have established assets who have played well, so why are you taking the number one pick to play out of position? In what sport does that happen? It’s entirely unprecedented. You don’t take Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Sue Bird or Derrick Rose to play the two. This is a woman who has twice been selected for USA Basketball as a point guard and broke the NCAA scoring record as a 1—and you’re going to ask her to essentially change positions?”
For San Antonio, there’s little to do beyond make the best of the situation, one certainly with its advantages. The opportunity to play Plum, Moriah Jefferson and Kayla McBride, while small, gives the team a significant mismatch against every other team in the league, or at least forces them to make some choices to respond to San Antonio’s quickness and three-point shooting.
But Colas worries that the situation will be further complicated by reticence on the part of Johnson, though San Antonio’s front office has expressed a belief that positions aren’t nearly as relevant in today’s WNBA.
“I have concerns about whether Vickie Johnson is genuinely on board with this plan,” Colas said. “And if she’s not, if it’s not a plan that she initiated, it seems unfair to draft and just say to a first year coach, ‘ok now make it work.’ That’s a difficult position to be put in.”
Just because Plum signs doesn’t mean she cannot be traded, by the way. According to page 81 of the WNBA CBA, “(c) No player who signs a Contract as a Free Agent or Draft Rookie may be traded before the later of (i) two (2) weeks following the date on which such Contract was signed or (ii) the fifteenth (15th) day of the Regular Season covered by the Contract, unless such player consents in writing to such trade.”
In plain English? Plum can be traded immediately, assuming she agrees to it. And that obviously isn’t a holdup to such a deal.
Plum plans to speak to the media on Friday in San Antonio, during a previously-planned day-long blitz organized by the team. The Stars declined through a spokesperson to comment on Colas’ statements.
Meanwhile, the dream that Kelsey Plum’s worked for since the age of ten, when she told her mother she wanted to play in the WNBA, is far more complicated than anyone could have expected, here on the eve of training camp. So is Ruth Riley’s tenure, with the canny rookie general manager facing questions that no executive in the history of the league has been forced to answer.
For Colas, the unprecedented nature of it all leaves her wondering who will be to blame if it goes awry, costing Plum a chance to start her career in the customary position of a top overall pick—at her natural position, coveted by the team that drafted her.
“They say they’ll play three guards,” Colas said. “Okay, maybe, but if that experiment fails, who is being fired? Since that essentially means you wasted the number one pick.”