July 7, 2021 

How Chennedy Carter earned a suspension from the Atlanta Dream

Charting the complicated path both Carter and Atlanta now face

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The Atlanta Dream huddles up during a game against the Minnesota Lynx. Photo: Kelsey Bibik/NBAE via Getty Images.

During the first quarter of Sunday’s contest between the Atlanta Dream and the Las Vegas Aces, Atlanta guard Courtney Williams approached Chennedy Carter on the bench. Williams, who saw that Carter looked disengaged as other teammates cheered, went over to Carter and emphatically told her to improve her attitude. The two had an argument, and after checking out at the end of the first quarter, Carter did not play in the second quarter and remained in the locker room for the second half.

After the game, Carter, who was upset about her playing time and the team’s success, approached Williams. After Williams told Carter that she wasn’t interested in hearing about playing time, Carter made noises about wanting to fight her teammate. Williams made it clear to the locker room that she had zero interest in fighting anyone, and immediately after Carter confronted her, she backed away and left the situation.

Williams voiced her thoughts about not wanting to fight in part because that’s been a knock on her in the past. Williams did get into a fight with a teammate while she played for the Connecticut Sun.

Though several players came over to check on the situation, a physical altercation did not occur. On Monday night, the team’s coaching staff and ownership suspended Carter until further notice.

“She’s working through stuff with ownership to try to get a process where she can return,” Petersen told assembled media Wednesday afternoon.

Carter, through her agent, declined to comment for this article.

Most teams would not suspend a player if this was an isolated incident, and sources tell The Next it is not the first time Carter has snapped at her teammates or made noises about fighting a teammate, which extends back to last season when she squared up with a player during a practice.

Several sources familiar with the team said that she does not make the same effort as other leaders to encourage her teammates. Though it is not uncommon for players to disagree and hold each other accountable, Carter has a reputation for taking it further than her teammates.

“I’m going to count on our players being adults, and I’m going to count on our players to be ready to practice be ready to play because they’re professionals,” Petersen told the media.

There are concerns, multiple sources told The Next, that Carter does not have a long-term future in Atlanta because of her negative effect on the locker room, though there is time to mend relationships. As such, the team is not planning to move Carter quickly, if it chooses to move her at all.

The front office has not tried to trade Carter, nor has it made calls to other teams about her status as it is actively working to keep her in Atlanta. A source elaborated that the players and the organization are extremely hopeful that she becomes a more amicable teammate and that the situation is fixed.

Plenty of public social media posts show that she is generally friendly with her teammates, and the players are usually comfortable around one another.

Multiple players have spoken out on social media. Courtney and Elizabeth Williams posted several tweets addressing the situation, while Carter liked several tweets in tandem.

Dream co-owner Renee Montgomery also addressed the situation on Twitter after Carter’s suspension.

The front office

The Dream are in a tricky spot. They do not have a general manager, which means that, unlike most franchises, ownership takes the lead at the moment on final personnel decisions. Petersen has also publicly indicated that he does not plan to be the team’s long-term head coach. Most of the players on the team have a positive opinion of their coach, sources told The Next, though they are obviously displeased with the team’s 2-9 skid.

The team will play two more games until the Olympic break and will return to practice in late July before the schedule resumes on Aug. 15.

Since the team waived Kalani Brown in late May, it has not made a personnel change. Per Kurtis Zimmerman’s Across the Timeline, Atlanta is the only organization not to make a personnel change since May 29, the day Brown was waived.

If the team does wish to move Carter, the WNBA trade deadline is Aug. 21. While the WNBA CBA does not explicitly say when trades may resume, activity in recent years indicates that Jan. 1 or 15 are likely dates that the team could resume trade negotiations.

No team in the WNBA is set to have more decisions to make at the end of the season than the Dream. Atlanta will have $836,241 in cap room after this season, the third-most in the WNBA, and will have to choose whether it is keeping Carter. The following players are either leaving or set to re-sign on a new contract:

UPDATE: This information and image came from Her Hoop Stats. Though HHS’ salary and CBA information are previously linked in this article, it was not attributed in the original caption for this photo.

The organization has the space to re-sign Hayes and Courtney Williams while keeping Carter’s team-friendly contract, and sources tell The Next that the current locker room dynamic is unlikely to affect the decisions of Hayes and Williams. 

The Dream selected Carter with the fourth pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Losing a talent of her caliber would obviously reshape the floor and ceiling of what the organization is capable of. Carter is an explosive offensive talent and is one of the best young guards to enter the WNBA in the past decade.

Atlanta has a lot to fix. The team is on track to have one of the worst defensive ratings in WNBA history and is in danger of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Now the team needs to figure out if the point guard most saw as the team’s future star can fit on this roster at all.

Written by Spencer Nusbaum

Atlanta Dream & Big 12 reporter, breaking news and other things.

4 Comments

  1. skywlkr_007 on August 3, 2021 at 1:08 am

    Great article. I know I should hope for Carter n the Dream org to work it out, but….as a Mystics fan, I’m over here praying that she comes up to DC. Not gonna lie. Would Cloud for Carter work cap wise..idk, but she would have respect for EDD n Charles, while also having the keys to the kingdom as our next franchise player 🙏🏿🙏🏿

    • Elishia on August 3, 2021 at 1:08 am

      Genuinely curious as I don’t know that much about Carter, but I am a Mystics fan – why do you think Carter would respect EDD and Charles? And do you think Thibault would even consider such a move with the emphasis he seems to place on healthy team dynamics? I’m thinking she might respond to him better as a coach since he seems to have a superpower with understanding players and helping them be their best.

      • skywlkr_007 on August 3, 2021 at 1:08 am

        Good pt, def don’t know that for a fact. Hoping she would respect gold medal Olympians, former MVPs, and winners (Charles at UCONN & EDD in ’19). Carter wants to be the best player on the best team and the Mystics can help her get there… eventually.
        We have alot of proven players (Clark, Meesseman (come back pls), Hines-Allen, Atkins) who can help stabilize her.
        Cloud just isn’t giving us enough, esp since we lost alot of buckets when Powers and Hawkins left.
        Agree abt Mike T. He is a players coach 1000%. Our system would be perfect for her too.
        Team chemistry is a tricky thing…if you don’t have enough talent, chemistry can only take a team so far. I mean look “god team chemistry” and then look at our below .500 record, with Charles putting up MVP numbers every night.

  2. RD on September 15, 2021 at 12:59 am

    Im all for Chennedy, she’s a dynamic player and can creat her own shot at anytime. She’s the next big thing in that hard nosed guard category! She drops dimes with the best of them in the WNBA. She’s young and impulsive at times, but is a hard worker. I’d like to see her with Las Vegas Aces! Bill will lead her in the right direction and playing with a team loaded with hard working straight dogs, she’ll instantly feel at home! They have every level of winners and future hall of gamers, that’s the team for Chennedy Carter! Bill gets her, remember him back in the day! Lambier was bill headed as all get out! He’s the coach that can get the most out of her game! Bill speaks her language! Aces go get her and bring her home to Vegas! Give the right surroundings and watch her shine!

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