Aces acquire Kelsey Bone in sign-and-trade with Mercury

In the third announced trade of the 2018 WNBA offseason, the Phoenix Mercury announced that they have acquired two draft picks from the Las Vegas Aces in a sign-and-trade deal centered around Mercury restricted free agent Kelsey Bone.

The Aces acquired Bone in exchange for their own 2018 third round pick and a 2019 second rounder. The 2019 second round pick in the deal was acquired Thursday by the Aces in the Kayla Alexander deal. Alexander was sent to Indiana along with the Aces’ 2019 third round pick in exchange for the Fever’s 2019 second rounder.

Bone last played in the WNBA in 2016. She was acquired by the Mercury via Connecticut in a deal built around young shooting guard Courtney Williams.

“Kelsey Bone has been consistent in saying that she wanted to be a starter in the WNBA, and obviously that was not going to happen in Phoenix,” said Mercury general manager Jim Pitman in a release on Friday afternoon.  “Today we executed a sign-and-trade deal with Las Vegas that brought back the best assets possible, including a future second-round pick that we expect to have great value.”

Bone played sparingly in the 2016 playoffs for the Mercury. As eluded to by Pitman, a significant role was not going to open up in Phoenix for Bone. The Mercury are set at the five spot for the foreseeable future with two-time Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-WNBA  selection Brittney Griner, who also led the WNBA in scoring in 2017 with 21.9 points per game.

Bone’s career got started in 2013 with the New York Liberty, who selected her with the fifth overall pick in 2013 WNBA Draft. Bone averaged 19.5 minutes per game for current Aces president of basketball operations and head coach Bill Laimbeer in New York as a rookie, drawing two starts and averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.

“I drafted Kelsey Bone five years ago because of her strengths as a back-to-the basket post player, and knew she would be a successful player in this league,” said Laimbeer in a team release on Friday. “That was borne out by her selection to the All-Star Team in 2015.”

Bone and two first rounders formed the haul sent to Connecticut in exchange for Tina Charles prior to the 2014 season. Playing primarily as a starter for two-plus seasons in Connecticut, Bone enjoyed a career year in 2015. She was named an Eastern Conference All-Star and also was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player. In 29 minutes per game in 2015, Bone averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

Bone may get that chance to start at center in the WNBA once again for her former coach. The Aces have three power forwards currently under contract in Isabelle Harrison, Dearica Hamby and Nia Coffey.

“We are excited to have her join the Aces, as she gives us another exciting young player that we can build around for our future,” Laimbeer added. “As an added bonus, Kelsey lives in Las Vegas, so she has a tremendous sense of ownership of the Aces and the community.”

Harrison and Hamby did log some minutes at center last season, but the Aces now appear set at the center position after signing Carolyn Swords on Thursday and acquiring Bone from the Mercury.