March 18, 2021 

What Crystal Langhorne, Morgan Tuck retirements mean for the Storm

Decisions have big salary implications in Seattle

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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)

The Seattle Storm had many roster questions this offseason. Among those questions was what do they do with Morgan Tuck and Crystal Langhorne? After all, the two players were owed a total $220,000 in 2021, a consequential amount for a team facing salary cap challenges. The pair played just 195 minutes for the team in 2020.

It seemed as if the Storm had two choices: play them or move them somehow. Seattle definitely needs all the cap flexibility they can get.

In early February, Langhorne retired after a 13-year-career spanning three decades. The two-time WNBA champion and all-star announced she would transition to the Storm’s front office.

On Monday, Tuck issued a statement:

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from the WNBA,” Tuck said. “I have tried everything physically possible to be ready for the upcoming 2021 WNBA season. Unfortunately, it will not be possible. This was a hard decision to make but I have to listen to what my body is telling me. I am glad that in my final season I was able to win a WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm.”

Unlike Langhorne, Tuck was unable to have the same full career. Tuck is retiring at age 26 after just five seasons was not entirely unsurprising. Knee injuries had marred her career going back to her time at the University of Connecticut. Despite the injury trouble, Tuck was the third-overall pick in 2016.

It’s unfortunate when a player doesn’t get to go out on their own terms. Tuck and Langhorne made the same decision this offseason but under different circumstances. While Tuck may not have had a full career, she still accomplished more than most. Tuck was a four-time NCAA champion and WNBA champion, with a 2019 WNBA Finals appearance in there.

What these retirements mean for 2021

Tuck, like Langhorne, was probably facing a tough road to the court. New acquisitions like Kiki Herbert Harrigan and Candice Dupree and returning players were likely to consume their potential minutes. Because both players played so sparingly in 2020, it’s hard to speculate on how their retirements will change the team. The Storm should see more production out of these roster spots now.

Both players were also entering the final years of their contracts. Losing Tuck and Langhorne to retirement likely makes signing this offseason’s acquisitions more comfortable. It may also provide them some breathing room if, say, Tamera Young or Stephanie Talbot make the roster out of camp.

Having Tuck and Langhorne retire is perhaps the simplest answer to what to do with them for 2021.

Written by Derek James

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