A vital rotation member stays put
The Washington Mystics announced on Tuesday that they signed forward Tianna Hawkins to a contract extension. Rather than entering free agency this offseason, Hawkins will rejoin the Mystics for the 2020 season on a salary of $71,400, per a WNBA source.
Playing in her fifth season with the Mystics and sixth in the WNBA, the 6’3 Hawkins has posted career highs in points per game, offensive rebounds per game, and a slew of advanced statistics. A candidate for both the Most Improved Player and the Sixth Woman of the Year awards this season, she is averaging 9.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the field and 35% from 3-point range. On July 10, she scored a career-high 24 points on 11-17 shooting in a loss to Phoenix. Her efficiency rating of 22.2 puts her well above the league average (15.0), and she has contributed 2.5 win shares for the first-place Mystics.
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Hawkins did not play in the Mystics’ 93-77 win over the New York Liberty on Tuesday and has battled knee soreness throughout the season. Thibault told High Post Hoops after the game that Hawkins may undergo “a little procedure in the offseason [to] kind of alleviate the stress she’s had on her knee.” But the injury was not a deterrent to re-signing her, Thibault said, because of how important she has been to the Mystics’ success. The team offered Hawkins the extension “a while back,” and she agreed to it last week.
Assuming Hawkins is healthy next year, the deal is a major win for Thibault and the Mystics. The deal also eliminates one of many question marks surrounding the Mystics’ 2020 roster, as Hawkins becomes only the sixth player on the current roster who is signed beyond this season.
As a Washington, DC, native and University of Maryland graduate as well as the mother of 4-year-old Emanuel, Hawkins was also eager to re-sign with the Mystics. After Tuesday’s game, she called the decision “a no-brainer” and said she was excited to “continue to grow as a player, as a mom, and also a great teammate” in DC.
She might have been able to secure a bigger increase from her 2019 salary of $70,000 in free agency, especially given that the WNBA and the players’ association will negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement this offseason, but Hawkins told High Post Hoops in the locker room Tuesday night, “Of course you think about it, but … this is where I want to be, so [there’s] no question about that.”
The Mystics will close the regular season by hosting Dallas on September 6 and Chicago on September 8. They are guaranteed either the No. 1 or the No. 2 seed in the WNBA playoffs, both of which give the Mystics a double bye into the semifinals.
Additional reporting by Howard Megdal.
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