Minnesota Lynx guard Jia Perkins has retired, per Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune.
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The bench of the 2017 WNBA champion Lynx will look much different in the upcoming season. Plenette Pierson announced during the summer that the 2017 season would be her last. Pierson was the top reserve frontcourt player for Minnesota last season.
Renee Montgomery, an unrestricted free agent, signed with the Atlanta Dream to kick off the WNBA free agency period. Montgomery was the Lynx backup point guard in 2017, but she took on a bigger minutes load than most reserve guards as the team made a more conscious effort to cut back on the workload of Lindsay Whalen. Montgomery also started 12 games when Whalen went down with a broken hand.
Perkins, too, was a key cog off the bench for the Lynx. The 13-year pro logged 16 minutes per game in 2017 and appeared in all 34 regular season games. Perkins averaged nearly 17 minutes per game in the 2017 WNBA Finals. Perkins proved to be invaluable in the series in large part because of her ability to match up with Sparks’ All-Star point guard Chelsea Gray.
Perkins played for four different franchises in her 13-year WNBA career. In 2008 in Chicago, Perkins was a 17 point per game scorer. The one-time All-Star and All-Defense selection now gets to go out on top, having won her first WNBA championship with Minnesota in 2017.
The Lynx return Alexis Jones in the backcourt and have reserved player Cecilia Zandalasini on the wing, who can be brought back to absorb some of Perkins’ minutes.
Losing Montgomery, Perkins and Pierson all at once hurts. The Lynx may be forced to get much younger with their bench, but a perfect storm is also brewing for Minnesota to make a splash or two in free agency because of this chain of events.
The Lynx have ample cap room, roster slots and playing time to offer in a winning situation. In the same report, Youngblood noted that head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve would like to add some guard depth prior to the 2018 WNBA Draft.
Like Zandalasini, Anna Cruz is a reserved player for Minnesota. Natasha Howard is also a restricted free agent.
Last week, the Lynx announced that five-time WNBA champion Rebekkah Brunson had re-signed with the team.