August 4, 2021 

Sparks make roster moves before the season resumes

The absence of Vadeeva likely signals an increasing role for Lauren Cox

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Karlie Samuelson of the Los Angeles Sparks: Photo Credit: WNBA Twitter Account

With the second half of the 2021 WNBA season set to resume on Aug 15, the Los Angeles Sparks had some roster decisions they were going to have to make.

It appears that they made some of those decisions on Tuesday afternoon. The Sparks had technically been carrying 14 players, two over the league maximum of 12 due to the injuries they’ve suffered to Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, Kristi Toliver and Jasmine Walker and the absence of Maria Vadeeva who had remained overseas but was expected to join the team following the conclusion of the Olympics.

To this point, Bria Holmes and Karlie Samuelson had been signed to hardship contracts, contracts that allowed the Sparks to go over the number of players permitted on the roster because they had less than 10 available players due to injury.

The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that both Holmes’ and Samuelson’s hardship contracts had been terminated, signaling the likely return of Nneka and Toliver to the active roster.

Holmes initially made the regular-season roster off a non-guaranteed contract after a strong camp showing. She had provided the Sparks with some additional depth in the frontcourt and started five games. After a slow start to the season, she had started to find her shot a little bit and was active on the glass and the defensive end.

Samuelson, however, will be remaining with the team, for the time being, this time on a 7-day contract which will begin on Aug 15. She gives the Sparks an additional wing shooter from three-point range who can also space the floor as a small-ball power forward. Her impact on the team though has largely come off the ball as a defender and making plays that don’t show up in a box score.

In a bit of a shocker though, the team is no longer expecting Vadeeva to return for the second half of the season according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Times.

Vadeeva hasn’t played in the league since the 2019 season, her second in the WNBA. She showed promise as a young post player with a soft touch around the rim and a developing ability to step out and shoot from range.

The absence of Vadeeva likely signals an increasing role for Lauren Cox, the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Cox saw sporadic playing time for the Indiana Fever before they cut her back in June. She was immediately signed by the Sparks and in the five games she’s played, she’s looked like a capable WNBA rotation player.

The Sparks will be back in action on Aug 15 at home against the Fever.

David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.

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