WNBA teams had until Thursday afternoon to make their final roster cuts prior to the start of the 2018 regular season. Teams can keep up to 12 players on their active roster.
One of the more intriguing tidbits prior to that deadline came out of Phoenix when the Mercury announced that 2018 second round pick (21st overall) Raisa Musina had been waived.
Musina, 20, is a 6’4 forward out of Russia with a nice touch from the perimeter. Her size and shooting alone making it easy to envision her as a stretch four in the WNBA. According to the WNBA website, the Mercury signed Musina at the end of April.
High Post Hoops spoke with the team on Friday and was told that Musina had a desire to come over both prior to the draft and after she had been selected by Phoenix. However, the nature of the WNBA calendar made things difficult.
By the time Musina was able to secure a visa, Thursday’s deadline was staring a team already with a semi-crowded frontcourt right in the face. Phoenix signed Sancho Lyttle and re-signed Camille Little back in February. Versatile wing/forward DeWanna Bonner is back in the league after giving birth to twins last July, and 6’5 forward/center Marie Gulich had been selected by the Mercury in the first round of this year’s draft.
Musina’s relative youth was taken into consideration, as she hasn’t had much time to add enough strength to her frame to be relied upon to battle down in the paint on a semi-regular basis, nor is she seen yet as a player that can defend WNBA small forwards at a high level.
The Mercury did not consider suspending Musina to hold onto her rights. This step is often taken in the WNBA for players that do not wish to come over. This case was different, as Musina did wish to do so.
The team ultimately arrived at this decision as they weighed their mission to field a team capable of competing for a championship in 2018 with their objective to do right by Musina and her clear intentions to come over to try and make a WNBA roster.
Imani Wright, the 26th overall pick out of Florida State, impressed the Mercury in camp with her shooting and size as a pure shooting guard to earn a spot on the opening night roster. Expect the Mercury to continue to carry 11 players, the league minimum, for at least part of the season.
Other teams will now have an opportunity to pursue Musina because she was signed then waived. Look for her name to resurface in the future, especially in the offseason when teams will have had several weeks to plan ahead with more roster spots in play.
The Mercury open the season on Friday as they host the Dallas Wings (10 PM ET, NBA TV/WNBA League Pass).