June 16, 2020
Las Vegas Aces sign Alex Bentley
Aces add another guard with 12th roster spot
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
Atlanta Dream guard Alex Bentley (20) during the WNBA game between the Atlanta Dream and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on July 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss
The Las Vegas Aces have signed veteran guard Alex Bentley, the team announced Tuesday. This move comes on the heels of last week’s news that starting guard Kelsey Plum will be out for the 2020 season after undergoing surgery on a torn left Achilles tendon.
Bentley appeared in 29 games last season for the Atlanta Dream. The Penn State alum, drafted by the Dream in 2013, returned to Atlanta via trade in 2018 after spending four-plus seasons in Connecticut. Coming off a down season in 2019, the Aces saw a good fit and trusted Bentley’s overall body of work.
“Given the nature of the season, I think we needed a player we knew could play in this league,” Aces general manager Dan Padover told The Next. “Someone more with a body of work than a flier on a developmental player from the draft. With Kelsey going out, we needed someone who could get her own shot and could play the 1 and the 2… Those two were the biggest motivators for getting it done.
“We have stayed in touch with her over the offseason and knew that she was on our shortlist of someone we’d want to add. With the Kelsey news, our process got accelerated a little bit. With a conversation with Alex over the weekend, we got it done.”
Padover noted that Bentley’s ability to play either guard spot will give head coach and president of basketball operations Bill Laimbeer several options as he mixes and matches different combinations on the perimeter. Bentley shot a career-low 30.7 percent from the field last season in Atlanta, but the Aces didn’t take that as an indication of what she could offer in 2020.
“One thing that’s clear is she just needed a fresh start and an opportunity,” Padover said. “Last year, you can’t ignore it. But it’s not a good representation of what she can do. Does she need to maybe re-establish certain spots on the floor that she gets to and things like that? Yeah. But overall, she’s proven as a player, and I don’t think she’s done yet. It was an outlier. I think she’ll still be able to provide here.”
By signing Bentley, the team opted not to use the final roster spot on a fifth big. The Aces are confident in the ability of mainstays Liz Cambage, A’ja Wilson, and Dearica Hamby to play major minutes in 2020 with veteran Carolyn Swords also in the mix. They also have the pieces to also roll out some smaller lineups, most notably with Angel McCoughtry sliding to the 4 as she did at times in 2018 with Atlanta.
Free-agent signing Danielle Robinson will be a prominent figure in the backcourt with Plum sidelined. The team also brought back point guard Lindsay Allen earlier this offseason. Bentley can play on or off-ball. That said, the Aces haven’t completely moved on from the idea of Jackie Young as one of the team’s main ball-handlers.
Instead, Padover highlighted Young’s versatile game and felt that it opened the door to more possibilities with the 12th roster spot. “I think the one thing that Jackie allows us to do is to go after the best player, and Jackie can fit in wherever we need her whether that be the 1, 2, or 3,” he said.
The Aces will be a slightly different team this season. Some of the big stuff is still in place: Cambage and Wilson are dominant forces inside, Kayla McBride is one of the league’s top shooting guards, and Hamby is one of the most impactful reserves. Plum’s absence will hurt. However, the Aces did add another dimension by signing McCoughtry and Bentley.
“Our team actually has gotten a little different,” Padover said. “We added Angel and Alex who historically can get their own shot, and the knock on us last year was we didn’t have a player like that. To go do that along with Danielle’s ability to penetrate…the three of them add a dimension that is gonna be really interesting.”