May 20, 2021
How roster crunch led to Liberty waiving Layshia Clarendon
Young guards Jones, Richards to play more in support of Ionescu
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The Liberty have waived All-Star point guard Layshia Clarendon. Kate Fagan broke the news earlier this morning. League sources have also confirmed the news to The Next.
Clarendon signed a two-year protected contract at $120,000 a year in the free agency period before the global pandemic and the 2020 Wubble season. They started 19 games and averaged 11.5 points and under four rebounds per contest for New York in head coach Walt Hopkins’ first season with the Liberty.
Clarendon played a total of three minutes in three games for the Liberty in 2021. When asked on opening night about Clarendon’s lack of minutes on the floor, Hopkins responded that he liked what he saw from franchise star Sabrina Ionescu.
“Yeah, I mean, we’ve got we got Sabrina, and she was playing a heck of a game,” he said. “And right now it’s about putting the best group out there that we can, you know, to try to win, and I thought Sab was just really playing well and we wanted a ride her, so we stuck with it.”
With Natasha Howard back in the United States, the Liberty had a decision to make. With only 12 roster spots, including Jocelyn Willoughby, someone had to be moved. According to a league source, it is highly unlikely that New York suspends Willoughby’s contract after the second-year wing suffered a season-ending injury rupturing her Achilles.
Jazmine Jones will be relied upon primarily to lead the second unit behind Sabrina Ionescu. While Jones was relied upon in the Wubble to play minutes at the point after not playing the role since high school, in 2020 she had a 23.2 percent assist rate and a 21.7 percent turnover rate. With a healthy Sabrina Ionescu, the Liberty trust not only Jones, but this move signals confidence in DiDi Richards, the Liberty’s 17th overall draft pick in 2021 who can play multiple positions, including some minutes at the point.
The Liberty play their next game on Friday at the Mystics, followed by a newly scheduled back-to-back in Chicago on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET and against the Dallas Wings at Barclays Center at 7 p.m. ET on Monday. The schedule change comes after a Brooklyn Nets playoff game at Barclays Center was scheduled for Tuesday night. The Liberty are now set to play six games in the first 11 days of the WNBA season.