After an injury riddled season which ended too early and an offseason which has seen the president and the head coach go the Los Angeles Sparks will be looking for some surety in the free agency period.
Thanks to injury the 2018 WNBA season never really happened for the Los Angeles Sparks. They made the playoffs but for a team most people expected to be one of the final two, the early exit from the playoffs was a shock. Then came the offseason where their president was offered a position outside basketball and she took it.
The Sparks also had their head coach Brian Agler resign in what could only be considered a surprise. Now, new head coach Derek Fisher has some decisions to make in free agency which will impact the Sparks franchise going forward. Here are a list of players who are coming back for the Sparks.
Jantel Lavender – On a max contract but not having a max impact. Lavender needs to step her output up so that the Sparks can head back to where they are accustomed to being – at the top of the WNBA.
Nneka Ogwumike – Not much needs to be said about the one time MVP. as long as Ogwumike is on the team and healthy the Sparks will be relevant.
Candace Parker – Similar to Ogwumike, as long as Parker is healthy and on the team the Sparks are a threat. One of the best all-round games in the WNBA and is always going to hurt you – from anywhere on the court.
Maria Vadeeva – Was talked about as the number two pick last year. Was not given enough court time to show how she could impact the league. Has a number of years left on her contract so will show more and more over the next few years.
Sydney Wiese – A talented shooter who was given a total of 3.3 minutes per game in 11 outings last season. May play more under Fisher but has a cheap contract which is going to be important this season.
Free agents to be re-signed
The Sparks have six players who are off contract this season. Not all of them will be re-signed, especially if they all go at their potential market value. They have about $500,000 in salary cap space.
Alana Beard – So much of the success of the Sparks is built upon Beard. Look at her box score and you wonder why she is in the league. Look at her impact on the court and you know. So much Sparks offense is generated by Beard just hounding her player. She is a true lock down player.
Essence Carson – Carson is a versatile guard/forward with good size at 6’0″. She can score from anywhere on the court as well as being a good rebounder and passer.
Chelsea Gray – To put it simply, Gray is going to get paid this summer. There will be too many teams chasing her signature for this not to happen. To put it simply she is the complete guard package. The Sparks need her back.
Odyssey Sims – As the back court partner to Gray, Sims did not perform as well last year. Her shooting from deep was a low 27.3 percent. This is not good enough and it will be something she works on over the offseason. Expect Sims back better and stronger next season.
Unlikely to be re-signed
Karlie Samuelson – Signed to a rest of season contract last year, Samuelson played 20 games but only averaged 4.2 minutes per game. The only benefit of re-signing Samuelson is she is a small contract but will be fighting against the new draft picks for a spot on the team.
Riquna Williams – For me Williams is the player squeezed out due to the cap restrictions. While she has put up similar numbers to Carson, Williams does not have the versatility. If she can agree to a lower number the Sparks will be lucky to keep her.
The Sparks only had 11 players contracted but still had $100,00 left in cap space last season so expect them to have a full roster next season. They are used to being at the top of the WNBA and expect this free-agency period to reflect their desire to get back there quickly.