Sparks acquire Alexis Jones for perimeter shooting.
Over the past few years, the Sparks and the Lynx have had the premier playoff rivalry in the WNBA, having met during each of the last three postseasons, and alternating victories.
Now, the two teams have just completed some interesting offseason business, as Los Angeles sent Odyssey Sims to Minnesota in exchange for Alexis Jones.
Sims came to the Sparks in 2017 as a replacement for Kristi Toliver. She took over a starting guard role alongside Chelsea Gray midway through her first season, but lost that position to Riquna Williams towards the end of 2018. Sims only played 15 minutes in each of Los Angeles’ playoff games. For the year, Sims shot 38.8 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three-point range.
The Sparks exchanged the soon-to-be 27-year-old Sims for another Baylor product in Jones, who will turn 25 before the start of the season. Jones was drafted in 2017, but found very little playing time for the Lynx behind Minnesota’s stable of veterans, including Lindsay Whalen. Jones has averaged 8 minutes per game in two seasons, with no starts.
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However, after drafting another big with their first-round pick in this year’s draft, the Sparks needed to provide spacing around their post players of Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Jantel Lavender, and now Kalani Brown. Jones has shot 34.2 percent from three in her WNBA career after shooting 37 percent in her first two collegiate seasons at Duke and 41 percent in her final two years at Baylor.
A source familiar with the Sparks’ thinking says Los Angeles is “getting a great 3-point shooter on a rookie scale deal and offloading a max deal of a player that couldn’t help on long-range shooting.”
Per a team press release, GM Penny Toler said, “Alexis is a talented point guard who can stretch the defense with her 3-point shooting. She has already shown flashes of great play at both ends of the court. She brings playoff and championship experience in winning the WNBA championship in 2017. She will be a great addition to our backcourt.”
It is not believed that this trade is an immediate precursor for the Sparks to acquire Liz Cambage, but sources around the league believe that this transaction could help facilitate a deal for the Australian All-Star center.
It is also interesting to note that Sims was a free agent this offseason who signed a max offer sheet with Phoenix. The Sparks chose to match on Sims, and allowed Essence Carson, a better shooter and defender, to leave for the Mercury. Now, Los Angeles has converted that deal into a younger asset in Jones.
This could be an opportunity for Jones to reunite with Chelsea Gray, who remains unsigned. The pair shared a backcourt at Duke for two years, although both had ACL injuries during that period that limited their time together on the floor.
Of course, any discussion of Sims and Minnesota would be incomplete without acknowledging the rivalry that has persisted between Sims and Whalen over the last two postseasons, a clash that has featured shoving matches and flagrant fouls. Whalen retired and is no longer on the team, but multiple Lynx starters from the last few years remain, including Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus. Clearly, head coach Cheryl Reeve is choosing to bank on Sims’ aggression working in her favor in Minnesota.
The Sparks’ guard rotation now includes returning players Williams, Alana Beard, Karlie Samuelson, Sydney Weise, and presumably Gray. The team also drafted Marina Mabrey, signed Tierra Ruffin-Pratt this offseason, and brought in Loryn Goodwin and Gabby Green for training camp.
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