February 3, 2022
Daily Briefing — Feb. 3, 2022: Let’s make a deal — or two
Hear from Cathy Engelbert on the WNBA's capital raise
Happy Thursday — the workweek’s almost passed! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap! Day 86 of college basketball is here, following a day in which nearly half the league decided it needed to get into some serious trading action, wheeling and dealing every which way. Oh and we had another classic #Big12Wednesday, with Oklahoma’s low-usage “center” once again hitting an unlikely game-winner in a big-deal upset to get into a first-place tie with Iowa State.
But first: I am again plugging the Offseason Matrices — now with team cap sheets! If you’re looking for random contract info, you should definitely go to Her Hoop Stats or Spotrac, but here I’m live-updating as we go, including looking at teams’ remaining cap space including camp deals and the like.
- Taj Cole: The AU star signed a minimum deal with Connecticut, per Rachel Galligan.
- Diamond DeShields: Presumably engaged in a sign-and-trade with Chicago, which I’ll get to shortly.
- Joyner Holmes: Signed a minimum deal with Connecticut, originally announced by Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV with the designation clarified by the team itself.
- Briann January: Her deal with Seattle is for one year at $140,000, per Her Hoop Stats’ Richard Cohen, and she will retire after the 2022 campaign.
- Courtney Williams: Her one-year contract with Connecticut is for $103,000, per Cohen. This is a significant decrease from her contract with Atlanta, mostly on account of a skillset that hasn’t grown in recent years and a 2021 season that was fairly dreadful after a fantastic May.
- A’ja Wilson: Her deal with Las Vegas is a two-year for the max this year, and $202,155 next year, per Galligan, the most she could have in the second year of a long-term extension. She could have, however, signed for one year and then gotten a supermax next year. Now, thanks to the core designation, the Aces will have her rights for up to four years, only two of which could be on a supermax. We’ll see what the team uses the extra ~$25 million on next offseason…
We had a three-team trade, per Galligan, that I will try to describe as straightforwardly as possible:
Chicago: Signed-and-traded wing Diamond DeShields as well as its 2022 first-rounder (No. 7 overall) for point guard Julie Allemand and the worse 2023 first-rounder between their own and Phoenix’s^. With DeShields having previously ruled out a return, the Sky basically traded a first-round pick and probably a few spots in next year’s first round in exchange for a great point guard. The rich get richer, amirite?
Indiana: Traded point guard Julie Allemand for point guard Bria Hartley, Chicago’s 2022 first-rounder (No. 7 overall), the better 2023 first-rounder between Chicago’s and Phoenix’s, Phoenix’s 2022 second-rounder (No. 22 overall), and Phoenix’s 2023 second-rounder. For the second offseason in a row, the Fever are absorbing a bad contract from a contender in exchange for more draft capital — which, given Indiana’s current roster, can’t be a bad thing. Allemand is a damn big loss, though it’s hard to imagine she’d be included in this trade if she hadn’t lobbied to join her compatriots in Chicago.
Phoenix: Traded its 2022 second-rounder (No. 22 overall), its 2023 first-rounder, its 2023 second-rounder, and point guard Bria Hartley for Diamond DeShields and salary relief from Hartley’s contract. (That last one’s intangible, I’m just noting that Hartley is a negative asset in this trade.) The Mercury are giving up a fair amount of draft capital they have little use for in exchange for guaranteeing the services of a hopefully-good wing and freeing the cap space to sign veteran minimums and possibly Tina Charles to round out the roster. (Which, and I cannot stress this enough, is a historically awful way to round out their roster.)
Los Angeles, Seattle: The Storm traded combo forward Katie Lou Samuelson and its first-round pick (ninth overall) to Los Angeles for wing Gabby Williams, per Galligan. The only takeaways I can make here are that the impression that I and Mark Schindler of Premium Hoops and Basketball News had of her play did not jive with the team’s assessment; and, that teams’ impressions of Gabby Williams are quite divorced from her most recent WNBA play. Because the fact that the Storm, an aging team that will desperately need rookies to develop soon, had to throw in a first-round pick to add $72,000 to its cap sheet is pretty significant.
WNBA at large: Our Howard Megdal reports that the league has closed on a significant capital raise that includes selling ownership stakes in the W itself to a variety of investors, including owners like Joe and Clara Wu Tsai of New York and Ginny Gilder of Seattle, along with new partners like Laurene Powell Jobs (founder of the activist LLC Emerson Collective), Condoleezza Rice (former Bush-era Secretary of State), and Hall-of-Famer Swin Cash. Nike has also purchased an ownership stake in the league.
The new cash infusion will help the WNBA invest in immediate upgrades to services like WNBA.com, the League Pass app, and to develop a new strategy for merchandise while adding support on longer-term initiatives like global branding and expansion, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Next in a phone interview.
“We wanted to go outside and get outside investors to validate the valuation and the commitment to the rise of women’s sports and the WNBA,” Engelbert said. “…But we didn’t cast a wide net on this because we didn’t have to, because we found so many current owners and outside investors that were in our network that said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to invest.’”
(All times in Eastern)
Watch List, Thursday, Feb. 3
RV* Virginia Tech @ #20 Notre Dame, 8 p.m., ACC Network
Pac-12 or Big 10 on national television (or national streaming)
#17 Maryland @ Michigan State, 6 p.m., BTN
Penn State @ RV Nebraska, 8 p.m., BTN
#2 Stanford @ UCLA, 10 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Feb. 2 recap
#9 Baylor, #18 Oklahoma: The Sooners beat the Bears 78-77, sweeping the season series. Baylor led by as much as 12 in the first quarter, before a 22-13 Oklahoma second tied it up at halftime. The Sooners shot 43.8% from the field by only 20.0% from three, while the Bears shot only 36.8% overall and 25.9% from three but with 28 attempts at the line; Oklahoma was +11 in rebounding margin; it notched 11 steals; the teams combined for 35 turnovers and 45 fouls.
Wing Madi Williams led the Sooners with 20 points on 9-for-17 shooting (0-3 3pt.), eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals; big Liz Scott hit her second-straight game-winner — both assisted layups against then-ninth-ranked teams (Texas, last Saturday) — and finished with 16 points on 7-for-10 FG, five rebounds (three offensive), and four fouls in 17 minutes; combo guard Taylor Robertson had a rare rough shooting day, but still notched 14 points on 2-for-9 from three (1-2 from two) and 6-for-6 from the line, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals; backup combo forward/five-out center Skylar Vann had eight points on 3-for-6 shooting (1-2 3pt.), seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals against two turnovers and four fouls in 19 minutes. The Bears were led by combo guard Sarah Andrews’ 23 points on 9-for-20 from the field and 3-for-10 from three, six assists, and two steals against four turnovers; big NaLyssa Smith notched a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double on 6-for-15 FG (0-1 3pt., 7-9 FT) with eight offensive boards, two assists, and three blocks against five turnovers; off-ball guard Ja’Mee Asberry played all 40, finishing with 15 points on 4-for-11 from three (0-1 from two), three rebounds, four assists, and two steals against two turnovers; bench combo forward Caitlin Bickle had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting (0-1 3pt.), four rebounds, and four fouls in 26 minutes; center Queen Egbo committed four fouls in 16 minutes.
#10 UConn: 76-56 win over Creighton. Trailed by as many as 12 in the mid-second quarter, then scored 18 unanswered. Shot 50.0% from the field and 41.2% from three while allowing 35.2% overall; out-rebounded the Bluejays by 12; notched 22 assists on 29 buckets; the teams each committed 15 turnovers, with Creighton adding 15 fouls. Center Olivia Nelson-Ododa led with a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double on 6-for-9 FG with six assists and two steals against four turnovers; combo guard Christyn Williams had 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting (1-2 3pt.), three assists, and two steals against three turnovers; off-ball guard Caroline Ducharme notched 13 points on 5-for-12 form the field (1-1 3pt.), two assists, and two turnovers; bench wing Evina Westbrook tallied 10 points on 4-for-6 FG (2-4 3pt.), five rebounds, and five assists; backup combo guard Azzi Fudd had 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting (2-3 3pt.).
#11 Iowa State, #25 Kansas State: The Cyclones beat the Wildcats 70-55. Iowa State won the third quarter 24-8. The Cyclones shot 49.2% from the field and 43.8% from three, while holding K-State to 35.9% and 25.0%, respectively. Point guard Emily Ryan led Iowa State with 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting (1-2 3pt.), six rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and two blocks against three turnovers; wing Ashley Joens notched a double-double with 11 points on 5-for-10 FG (1-2 3pt.) and 12 rebounds, plus four assists against three turnovers; combo guard Lexi Donarski had 15 points on 5-for-12 from the field (2-4 3pt.) and four rebounds without a turnover; backup big Nyamer Diew tallied 10 points on 4-for-5 FG (1-1 3pt.). The Wildcats were led by off-ball guard Brylee Glenn’s career-high-tying 19 points on 7-for-12 from the field and 3-for-6 from three, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals against two turnovers; center Ayoka Lee was held to 12 points on 6-for-16 FG, eight rebounds, two assists, and three blocks; point guard Serena Sundell, off-ball guard Jaelyn Glenn, and wing Emilee Ebert combined for 13 points on 5-for-25 from the field and 2-for13 from three, with Sundell adding six rebounds (three offensive), four assists, and five turnovers.
UNC-Asheville: 70-60 loss to Campbell. Point guard Nadiria Evans led all scorers Wednesday with a season-high 33 points on 12-for-20 from the field and 9-for-15 from the line, plus three assists and two steals against six turnovers.
- Idaho vs. Montana