February 1, 2024 

Dream add former WNBA MVP Tina Charles, re-sign Nia Coffey

Analyzing Atlanta's newest free agency signings

After trading for Los Angeles Sparks guard Jordin Canada, the Atlanta Dream agreed to contracts with unrestricted free agents Nia Coffey, Aerial Powers and Tina Charles, the team announced on Thursday.

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Coffey, one of the WNBA’s most versatile defenders, is resigning with Atlanta on a two-year, $300,000 protected contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $150,000, league sources told The Next. The 6’1 forward averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on 40% shooting from beyond the arc in 21.9 minutes per game.

Coffey anchored the Dream’s league-leading defense over a 17-game stretch from July 1 to Aug. 13 (96.5 defensive rating) before she went down with a left hand injury for the rest of the season. Following Coffey’s injury, the Dream’s defense was No. 7 in the league (103.5 defensive rating) over the final nine games of the regular season — a testament to her defensive value.

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Powers comes to Atlanta on a one-year, $155,000 protected contract. Powers is a dynamic athlete and midrange scorer, though her off-ball movement leaves a little to be desired. The Next examined her fit with the Dream soon after her signing.

On the other hand, after sitting out the 2023 season, Tina Charles signed a one-year, $130,000 unprotected contract to play for her former teammate and Dream head coach Tanisha Wright.

“There is a mutual respect between Tina and I because of the years we spent as teammates, and her competitiveness and desire to win will be an added boost for our team,” Wright said in a press release. “In all candor, I look forward to now telling her what to do instead of vice versa.”

Charles, the 2012 WNBA MVP, becomes the first former MVP to play for the Dream in franchise history. Before this signing, the Dream were the lone active franchise without one.1 The 6’4 center last played for the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm in 2022, posting averages of 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 34 games (26 starts).

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Charles shot 35% (40-for-114) on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers in her last WNBA season, per Synergy Sports. She will add much-needed shooting to Atlanta’s bench lineup, alongside a group of below-average to well-below-average floor spacers, including Haley Jones, Naz Hillmon, Laeticia Amihere and Powers.

However, Atlanta’s rim protection will take a sizeable hit in defensive productivity with the shift from Monique Billings to Charles. When Charles was playing for a creative coach and alongside arguably the greatest help defender of her generation in Seattle, Charles’ defensive abilities could be described as adequate. At no other point in her career has this been true.

Dream updated depth chart

Note: Bold signifies players on a protected (or guaranteed) contract. 

PG: Jordin Canada / Haley Jones

SG: Allisha Gray / AD Durr*

SF: Rhyne Howard / Aerial Powers

PF: Nia Coffey / Naz Hillmon / Laeticia Amihere

C: Cheyenne Parker / Tina Charles

The Atlanta Dream has one protected contract spot remaining and 11 total players under contract. However, Howard, Jones and Amihere are locks to break through training camp, while the odds are very likely for Hillmon.

Atlanta also holds the No. 12, No. 20 and No. 32 picks in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

  1. The Las Vegas Aces (formerly known as the San Antonio Silver Stars and Utah Starzz) became the second-to-last franchise to have a WNBA MVP play for them when A’ja Wilson won MVP in 2020. And if Charles makes Atlanta’s roster out of training camp, all 12 active franchises will have had a WNBA MVP play for them sometime in franchise history. ↩︎

Written by Hunter Cruse

Hunter Cruse covers the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Draft for The Next.

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