December 1, 2020 

Seattle Storm player season reviews: Morgan Tuck and Crystal Langhorne

The two veterans didn't see much playing time in 2020, but could affect the 2021 roster for a team looking to repeat as champions

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PALMETTO, FL – OCTOBER 6: The Seattle Storm receives the WNBA Championship Trophy after defeating the Las Vegas Aces and winning the 2020 WNBA Championship in Game Three of the WNBA Finals against the Las Vegas Aces on October 6, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

There is no intended disrespect to either Morgan Tuck or Crystal Langhorne by combining their seasons into one post. The reason they aren’t receiving their own individual posts is their lack of playing time. Yet, they are still worth mentioning in the context of the team.

Drawing meaningful conclusions from Tuck’s 88 minutes or Langhorne’s 107 would likely be a mistake. That’s not enough time for any player to get the feel for a game or get in a rhythm. When either player did see the court, it was often in garbage time.

There is just too much qualifying needed to try and create an analysis for their seasons than is worthwhile.

The problem with getting a combined 195 minutes and 23 games from these two is that they are paid like regular contributors. Tuck and Langhorne are owed $220,000 combined next season, or 17 percent of the cap. This is a problem for a team with a number of key free agents to re-sign this offseason.

Tuck and Langhorne are more than just salary cap figures. They’re players, and more importantly, people. When we discuss players in these context we too often mention them as contracts rather than individuals. However, from the Storm perspective, it’s fair to question their salary cap utilization.

While I’m not worried about their owners’ cap flow, this is a salary cap league and how teams spend their money affects their team building. You can pay Tuck or Langhorne over $100,000 per season but you need more from them than they received. The team also didn’t ask much of them.

Here’s the thing: they could get the same production for much less while making it easier to retain their championship core. These decisions aren’t easy. Tuck is a young forward while Langhorne has dedicated six years to the franchise and has now won two titles in Seattle.

What’s also difficult is losing a combination of Alysha Clark, Natasha Howard, and Sami Whitcomb for nothing. While it would be nice to re-sign Clark at her previous salary of $85,800, that may not happen. Tuck and Langhorne’s total salaries could pay for Clark’s max contract. Alternatively, maybe the Storm keeps two of those three players.

In the failure of this, the Storm may just need to utilize Tuck and Langhorne better in 2021. More production from them and the arrival of Kitija Laksa could help the Storm resolve the cap gymnastics.

Langhorne and Tuck may not have seen much playing time, but their contracts have the potential to affect the Storm’s payroll for next season. Their contracts are consequential to the other roster moves the team needs to make. If they were on minimum contracts, this would be a different conversation.

Yet, in a salary cap league, it’s worth talking about how the Storm needs to get more from both players or figure out how to optimize their cap space.

Written by Derek James

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