When the Las Vegas Aces signed Carolyn Swords, the moves that have been made prior to have raised concerns.
When a new coach or general manager takes over a team they want to make their mark. Bill Laimbeer is no exception to this rule. Since he has taken over the Aces, he has made a number of moves.
He has signed defensive dynamo Tamera Young. He also signed Kelsey Bone and traded Kayla Alexander for a second round pick. I will go into these signings in later articles. This article is focusing on the signing of Carolyn Swords.
Swords is a defensive minded center who has played for Laimbeer previously in New York for two seasons. However, in order to facilitate the signing, Laimbeer traded Alexander, who is good at both ends of the court and coming off a career year.
The problem with this is that in the second half of last season, this team developed a cohesion which had them competing with the best teams in the league. This cohesion coincided with the development of Alexander and the loss of playing time for Erica DeSouza. This would eventually lead to the cutting of DeSouza from the roster.
Unfortunately for DeSouza, her game did not mesh with the quick, guard based team who excel with fast break opportunities and great ball movement in the half court setting. Swords has a similar style of speed and agility to her game to DeSouza. This could mean Swords gets lost on offense.
Can the body hold up?
The second issue with the signing is the state of Swords knees. In 2013, while a member of the Chicago Sky, Swords tore her MCL. This caused her to miss the entire 2014 season. She came back in 2015 to play for the Liberty and had two reasonably successful seasons under Laimbeer there.
Last season, Swords was signed by the Seattle Storm as a back-up for Breanna Stewart. Her role was to take some of the bigger centers, giving Stewart a break on the defensive end.
Unfortunately for the Storm, Swords was not able to hold up her end of the bargain, playing just 8.7 minutes per game. This meant a promising Seattle team was not able to compete against the Minnesota Lynx with Sylvia Fowles or the Phoenix Mercury and Brittney Griner.
I am not blaming Swords for the lack of success for the Storm, their issues went deeper than that. However, Swords looked like a player who was a step too slow and was not able to perform to the level that we were accustomed to.
With the trading of Alexander, Laimbeer has clearly put his faith in Swords to fill the role she did in New York. However, the question which only the start of the regular season will have is what impact this will have on the development of the rest of the Aces players.
Kelsey Plum is starting her second year with a fire of someone who has not realised their full potential in their rookie campaign. Moriah Jefferson is coming back from a knee injury which will require some adjustment from the rest of the team.
Add to this Tamera Young, Kelsey Bone and the number one draft pick are new to the team and we may see a slow start to the season again. This may not please Laimbeer or the new owners of the Aces who will be looking for success.