As WNBA free agency hasn’t been as busy of late, we’re going to be looking at moves that happened over the past two days in this recap. There were a couple of key re-signings by Eastern Conference teams that’ll be looking to make a playoff push this season, and one that may be low-risk, high-reward.
Chicago Sky re-sign C Erika de Souza
The Sky’s lone return in last season’s Sylvia Fowles trade, veteran center de Souza returns to Chicago for 2016. The 6’5” three-time All-Star was brought in to stabilize a shaky Sky frontcourt with a large, veteran presence to lead them through another deep playoff run.
That didn’t happen exactly as planned. De Souza struggled to find a consistent role in the Sky’s offense, and at 34, couldn’t run the floor like she used to in Atlanta. The Sky’s playoff hopes didn’t work out too well either, as they were eliminated by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Indiana Fever in three games.
6’5” is still 6’5”, though, and if de Souza is willing to accept a more limited role, she still has plenty to offer to Chicago. While iso post-ups are not necessarily in the Sky’s best interest, de Souza’s size and footwork means she can still get her fair share of easy buckets, and her offensive rebounding remains among the best in the league.
This doesn’t necessarily secure everything for the Sky up front, however. As it is a Summer Olympics year, we still have yet to hear whether or not de Souza will be spending the first half of the season training with the Brazilian National Team. The Sky also still need to re-sign restricted free agent Jessica Breland; will this de Souza contract leave them with enough cap space to do so?
Atlanta Dream sign G Carla Cortijo
The first Puerto Rican to ever play in the WNBA, Cortijo rejoins the Dream after playing for them briefly towards the end of 2015. She appeared in the Dream’s final two games, scoring 13 points on 5-8 shooting against the Mystics on Sept. 13.
It’s an extremely small sample size, and whether or not Cortijo will stick in the WNBA is still anyone’s guess. For Atlanta, whose guard corps is in shambles, this may turn out to be little more than a contract that lasts through training camp. For Cortijo, though, it’s the perfect situation to prove she belongs.
Connecticut Sun re-sign G/F Shekinna Stricklen
A lottery pick in 2012, Stricklen entered the WNBA with high expectations. An athletic slasher out of the prestigious Tennessee Lady Vols program, she struggled with consistency her first couple seasons in Seattle, unable to find her role as the Storm powerhouse slowly crumbled.
Stricklen broke out in her third season, however, in an unlikely way: she transformed her game into that of a three-point specialist. For a player whose jumper was questioned coming out of college, Stricklen has since been making threes at a very high rate. They’ve accounted for over half her field goal attempts in both of the past two seasons, and her shooting efficiency stats have risen quickly as a result. She can still play out of control at times, but ranking in the WNBA’s top 10 in made three-pointers annually can make up for that somewhat.
Stricklen was traded to Connecticut before the 2015 season, and the Sun are now bringing her back for two years to continue her deadly outside shooting, which should complement the games of rising stars Chiney Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray very nicely. New head coach Curt Miller is also very, very fond of the pick-and-roll, so look for Stricklen to get plenty of open threes from the wing from Gray passes.