The dozen (or so) Lynx remain
One of the toughest days for a WNBA team is roster finalization day. Getting a roster down to the 12-player maximum often means making difficult choices, including waiving talented players. This was no exception for the Lynx on Monday’s deadline.
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The team announced they waived guards Erica Ogwumike and Linnae Harper.
Making the Lynx’s final roster as a guard was always going to be a long shot. Before the team made their cuts, Lexie Brown and Rachel Banham were the locks. Veteran experience likely gave Shenise Johnson and Karima Christmas-Kelly, listed as a guard and forward, an edge over the younger Ogwumike and Harper. On top of all this, the team drafted Crystal Dangerfield, Napheesa Collier’s former college teammate, in last month’s WNBA draft.
Harper aimed break back into the WNBA after a one-year stint playing in Israel. When she was signed back in February, there was hope that she could take some of Odyssey Sims’ minutes this season, though a league source tells High Post Hoops Sims is still eligible to return this season if she chooses. There is decent evidence that Harper can be a decent point guard in this league but that opportunity was no longer available on the Lynx.
Moving on from Ogwumike is an interesting move. Cheryl Reeve praised Ogwumike’s strong basketball family background and incoming knowledge of the league. Ogwumike was also an outstanding rebounder in college, something she cited as an area of weakness for first-round pick Kiki Herbert-Harrigan. As a senior at Rice University, Ogwumike averaged 19 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while standing at 5’9.
Letting Ogwumike go is especially intriguing because the Lynx gave up guard-forward Stephanie Talbot to acquire her. On paper, Talbot is exactly what this team needs: a versatile wing with size and a great outside shot. Yet, Talbot struggled to find her shot in her lone season in Minnesota despite posting career highs in points per game, usage rate and shot attempts per game.
You have to wonder if failing to make a shot in seven of her first 10 games and in her final five games played into the decision. Granted, Talbot was only playing 7-to-10 minutes per game those first 10 games but eventually worked her way up to starters minutes at around 30 minutes a night. By the end, Talbot’s minutes were declining and it seemed as if she was falling out of the rotation. Other than the inconsistency, there’s no other apparent reason for this.
Having Herbert Harrigan, Collier, Jessica Shepard, and Ceci Zandalasini on the roster made it more difficult to slot Talbot in at the 3 despite her versatility. Aside from no longer having room for her, the Lynx did her a favor sending her to New York where she can play, eventually, for Walt Hopkins who coached her last season when he was a Lynx assistant coach. (The Lynx announced Tuesday that Talbot will remain overseas in 2020.) If Talbot can find that consistency for the Liberty, she could be a valuable player in this league.
With Talbot factored in, the Lynx have trimmed their roster by three players instead of two since draft night. It would have been easy to see all three players having possible roles for the Lynx whenever their next season begins.