WNBA players opt-out citing COVID-19 and social justice
Johnson’s explosive scoring ability could make her a valuable sparkplug in the Sky’s offensive treasure chest. While late-round players are rarely uber-productive in their first year, the Rider guard led all of women’s Division I basketball in scoring last year.
The defending champion Washington Mystics also continued to shake up their roster, inking center Alaina Coates and guard Shey Peddy to one-year deals. This comes on the heels of point guard Natasha Cloud and forward LaToya Sanders opting-out of their contracts citing social justice issues and COVID-19 concerns.
Coates was the #2 pick in 2017 WNBA Draft and hopes to break out with the ‘Stics, while Peddy played limited minutes for Washington in 2019 before sitting out to serve on the squad’s video team.
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The pair fill out the Mystics roster after the team signed guard/forward Essence Carson earlier this week.
Cloud and Sanders join Jonquel Jones, Tiffany Hayes, Kristi Toliver as some of the bigger names opting out. More players are potentially on the way, as the WNBA appears to have no hard deadline on player and personnel decisions.
Out on the West coast, Seattle Storm head coach Dan Hughes also will not travel to Florida, citing COVID-19 health concerns in light of his battle with cancer last year. Hughes led the Storm to a WNBA title in his first season with the team and will be succeeded by assistant Gary Kloppenburg. Seattle hopes to build on last season’s 2nd round loss to Los Angeles.
Former LSU and WNBA star Temeka Johnson will head into the next chapter of her career, as the 2005 Rookie of the Year was hired to coach the Louisiana state-champion John Curtis Christian high school girl’s basketball team.
The WNBA will display “Black Lives Matter” on its courts once the season begins, an idea that Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart championed on Twitter several weeks ago. The idea received support from fellow WNBA players Danielle Robinson and Jordin Canada, as well as the NBA’s Dwyane Wade and Jayson Tatum The NBA announced last week that it will paint the message on all three of its courts as well.
Las Vegas Aces forward Angel McCoughtry is working with the league on social justice issues after starting a petition last week to allow players to wear jerseys with the names of victims of police brutality on the back.
Players have also discussed donning warmup shirts that read “Say Her Name” to honor the life of Breonna Taylor.
Sparks guard Nneka Ogwumike said on Nancy Armour’s podcast Tuesday that she hopes the league’s new CBA serves as a blueprint for gender equality.
Once again in the spotlight of social justice, Philly native Natasha Cloud was featured in the 76ers Pride photo series that focused on people of color.