New York finalizes a 2020 roster that consists of six rookies
On Tuesday, the Liberty announced transactions that came with both little surprise, shock and a boatload of disappointment. To chisel down the roster to 12 in time for a June 1 player pay date, New York waived resident “purple unicorn” Reshanda Gray. Additionally, both Marine Johannès and Han Xu will be missed in 2020 if a season is scheduled. The Liberty suspended both contracts.
The league referred to Tuesday as the “Final Roster Cutdown Date,” but it’s difficult for these twelve-or-eleven-person rosters to feel definitive without a training camp, which usually in seasons past has led to some roster shake-ups and surprises. Gray is a product of this. Last May, she earned the last roster spot on the team to start the 2019 season.
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While the Liberty’s final season in Westchester was a bit of a rollercoaster, which included players hopping overseas for Eurobasket and a dwindling coaching staff, Gray was a consistent source of light. In around 15 minutes per game played, she notched the highest numbers of her WNBA career, averaging over five points and five rebounds per contest. Her blue-collar motor got her a qualifying offer from the Liberty at the end of January, and then she signed a training camp deal in early March. But this was all before a global pandemic.
New York General Manager Jonathan Kolb understands the emotional strain that is felt on both sides when waiving a player. He called it the “worst part” of his job.” He also valued the role Gray played on and off the court.
“On behalf of the New York Liberty organization, I would like to thank Reshanda for being a true and consistent competitor as shown night in and night out in front of New York Liberty fans last season,” He said in a team press release. “We wish her the best moving forward.”
And as does the women’s basketball twitter community, including our own Arielle Chambers, calling Gray “a leader.”
Where in the world are Johannès and Han?
To answer that rhetorical question, they’ll be both staying at home, as they should be. According to the team’s press release, Han won’t be able to report for the potential WNBA season due to “scheduling changes in her home country.”
And while China’s WCBA hasn’t confirmed its return to play, its male counterpart the CBA however has signaled it will return to play in July, and if the WCBA follows suit, the WNBA and the WCBA seasons could possibly overlap. Han unfortunately can’t be in two places at once.
Johannès, the walking-highlight-reel or the modern-day statue of liberty, would have faced incredibly inconvenient travel if she had opted to report whenever Cathy Engelbert does decide to switch on the green-light.
“We’re taking everything into consideration including things we never anticipated before like long flights,” Kolb told AP’s Doug Feinberg. “Now it’s a big deal. How do they feel about that? Is our country going to allow these players into the United States? There’s still so many unknowns.”
According to Google Flights, flying from Paris to New York, which usually takes around six hours, balloons anywhere from eight and a half hours to 32 hours total hours in the sky. Also, layovers aren’t the anomaly but rather are the norm. There aren’t many nonstop flights.
But while fans won’t get to witness a play like this in 2020, there’s a ton of young talent (6 Rookies) who are ready to prove themselves when they do indeed get the chance to sign off Zoom and step onto a court.
Now both Jazmine Jones and Kylie Shook can take a deep breath. The two former Louisville Cardinals, along with ninth overall pick Megan Walker, 15th overall pick Leonna Odom and the coveted Jocelyn Willoughby have ALL made the 2020 roster. Oh yeah, and there’s Sabrina Ionescu, can’t forget about her.