WNBA Free Agency 2018: Charles, McCoughtry, 5 other core players announced

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Tina Charles
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Tina Charles /

January 15th marks the official start of WNBA free agency. The WNBA released an official list today of core players, reserved players, unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents.

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Seven players were designated as core players by their respective teams, meaning that team will have exclusive rights to negotiate a one or multi-year deal with that player.

Tina Charles (NY) and Angel McCoughtry (ATL) headlined the list of 2018 core players. Charles led the Liberty to a 22-12 record last season, earning 1st Team All-WNBA and 1st Team All-Defense honors. McCoughtry sat out the 2017 season, but the Dream will look to reintegrate her with their three 2017 All-Stars to make a big leap up the standings next season.

Also among the list of players receiving core designations: DeWanna Bonner (PHX), Karima Christmas-Kelly (DAL), Candice Dupree (IND), Crystal Langhorne (SEA) and Allie Quigley (CHI).

Quigley broke out in 2017 alongside Courtney Vandersloot and 2018 restricted free agent Stefanie Dolson. The two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year won the 2017 three point competition at All-Star weekend in Seattle, logged a career high in minutes and doubled her previous high in assists for first year head coach Amber Stocks. Quigley posted impressive shooting splits of 50.5% (FG) / 43.0% (3PT) / 89.3% (FT) in 31 games.

The Sky have the third and fourth picks in the upcoming WNBA Draft, meaning Stocks will have the opportunity to add some young dynamic talent to a group that really hit its stride offensively once starting point guard Courtney Vandersloot returned from EuroBasket play.

The fourth overall pick arrived in Chicago via a trade with Atlanta during the regular season. While the Dream and new head coach Nicki Collen will not have the opportunity to draft in the top five this year, they will hope to quickly turn the tide after missing the playoffs in 2017.

Dupree was a consistent scorer and leader for an Indiana team decimated by injuries in 2017.  Briann January, Tiffany Mitchell and Shenise Johnson — all key members of head coach Pokey Chatman’s rotation — suffered season-ending injuries. Retaining Dupree gives the team stability, experience and scoring at the four spot. Dupree was acquired via trade last offseason from Phoenix. She is marred to Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner, who also was designated as a core player for 2018.

Bonner, who recently gave birth to twins, sat out the 2017 season. The Mercury impressed once again in the single elimination playoff format, but were swept by the Los Angeles Sparks in the semifinals. With her return, more internal development and possibly a few key additions via the draft/free agency, the Mercury could find themselves in a much better position to make a Finals run in 2018.

Langhorne was a key piece in Seattle’s rotation all season long as their starting center. Though they struggled as a team to defend the league’s best post scorers, Langhorne proved to be a great fit offensively with her ability to finish, attack off the bounce and hit the occasional midrange shot.  She was a nice fit defensively as well in interim head coach Gary Kloppenburg’s scheme, which had the Storm aggressively meeting pick and roll ball handlers with two defenders out beyond the three point line.

Christmas-Kelly filled a very important role for a young Dallas Wings team that surprised many by making the playoffs. She played big minutes at the three spot and often guarded the opposing team’s best wing scorer. Christmas-Kelly also slid down a position often when head coach Fred Williams elected to play smaller. The Wings have plenty of young talent on the wing to develop, but have made it a clear priority to retain one of their veteran leaders.