April 14, 2024 

Minnesota, Chicago execute WNBA Draft eve trade

Lynx send Nikolina Milić to Sky for Sika Koné and 2025, 2026 draft capital; 2024 first-round pick swap

The 2024 WNBA Draft is set to begin on Monday evening, but the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky are already shaking up the draft board with a trade announced early Sunday morning. Minnesota and Chicago have agreed to swap 2024 first-round picks (No. 7 and No. 8 respectively), and the Lynx will also send Nikolina Milić to the Sky in exchange for Sika Koné, a 2025 second-round pick (via New York), and the right to swap first-round picks in 2026.

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“This trade in the WNBA Draft continues our focus on building a foundation for sustained success,” Lynx head coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve said in a press release announcing the trade.

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Lynx general manager Clare Duwelius met with the media on Friday and spoke about the various options the team has in this year’s draft.

“The five days leading into the draft are my favorite,” Duwelius said. “Because we’re all huddled in a room. We’re having great conversations, including [conversations] with other teams. Right now we’re definitely open and listening to those conversations and considering what might be best for our roster. Either direction, I think everything’s on the table.”

At least one of those conversations has now turned into a trade with another team.

Given who the Lynx have been able to add in free agency, as well as in the trade for former Connecticut Sun point guard Natisha Hiedeman, Minnesota isn’t faced with one glaring need to address. Reeve, Duwelius and Co. now have the luxury to add the best player available at a range of positions, or shrewdly kick the can to acquire assets down the road.

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Chicago Sky forward Sika Koné (23) defends Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) during a game at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn. on Sept. 10, 2023. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss / The Next)

In swapping 2024 picks, Chicago (who also holds the No. 3 pick) can ensure it comes away with two of the top seven players on their draft board. Meanwhile, Minnesota retains the opportunity to add a top prospect in this draft, and simultaneously raise the bottom line of each of their next two draft classes.

“Obviously, we were aggressive in free agency,” Duwelius said. “We landed really well with some players that give us a bit of roster depth and balance. We feel good that we have a long, long list of draft prospects here that are quality players that can really help us no matter what. Given we’ve added some talent across the board, [the prospects] will be in a really unique position where they can just come in, do what they do, do what they’ve done to get themselves in this position.”     

Koné, who will turn 22 by mid-season, is the third member of the 2023 Sky to join the Lynx this offseason. Minnesota also agreed to deals with former Chicago post player Alanna Smith, and guard Courtney Williams during free agency. The 6’3 Malian played in 20 games for Chicago as a rookie, averaging 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per outing.

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With Smith and last year’s steal of the draft Dorka Juhász, the Lynx are putting together a solid group of young post players, to which Koné will add another layer of athleticism and youthful potential. 

Milić heads to Chicago having played in 70 games for the Lynx over the past two seasons after signing with the team in May of 2022. She averaged 5.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per outing during her time in Minnesota.

The 2024 WNBA Draft will air on ESPN on Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. ET live from the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. A complete list of prospects attending the draft can be found here.

The Next’s Jackie Powell contributed reporting to this story.

Written by Terry Horstman

Terry Horstman is a Minneapolis-based writer and covers the Minnesota Lynx beat for The Next. He previously wrote about the Minnesota Timberwolves for A Wolf Among Wolves, and his other basketball writing has been published by Flagrant Magazine, HeadFake Hoops, Taco Bell Quarterly, and others. He's the creative nonfiction editor for the sports-themed literary magazine, the Under Review.

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