January 19, 2022 

What to make of the Indiana Fever waiving Kysre Gondrezick

The Indiana Fever moved on from Kysre Gondrezick, which leads to a larger discussion about recent Fever drafts

In a stunning move, the Indiana Fever announced on Tuesday that they have waived 2021 No. 4 overall pick Kysre Gondrezick.

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This move comes after just one season of Gondrezick’s career. The young guard played in 19 games for Indiana during her rookie season, posting averages of 1.9 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game. The West Virginia University product was an effective shooter and aggressive defender early in the season, but her accuracy and minutes waned as her rookie campaign progressed.

Gondrezick didn’t play in the second half of the Fever’s 2021 season. Recently, she shared that she needed to step away from the team to focus on her mental health and get support for her well-being.

“My mental health was at a high risk as I was under a lot of stress coping with my own personal silence of traumas,” Gondrezick shared in a statement.

The 24-year old guard last appeared in a game on July 11 before her absence. That may now be her final game ever played in an Indiana uniform after being waived this week.

Gondrezick was considered an extraordinary reach with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft, but the Fever were confident in her abilities and made the selection regardless of perception. Now, after moving on from the Michigan native less than one year later, questions about that pick, and the Fever’s draft process, are resurfacing.

On its own, if the Fever simply identified Gondrezick wasn’t a high-quality player and moved on from her, that wouldn’t be considered a surprising move — she struggled on the court during her rookie season. But such a line of thinking misses the problem that Indiana has faced in recent seasons.

The Fever selected Lauren Cox with the third overall selection in the 2020 WNBA draft and moved on from her in the middle of the 2021 season. By waiving both Cox and Gondrezick in seven months, the team has shown an inability to identify talent in the lottery, a concern for a franchise that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2016.

There are also questions about the Fever’s priorities. In the long-term, moving on from Cox to sign Chelsey Perry during the 2021 campaign may prove to be a fruitful decision for general manager Tamika Catchings. But the question is why, if the Fever wanted Perry, did they decide to move on from Cox and not another player. For a team that needs to be developing talent and focusing on sustainable long-term growth, moving on from a veteran, rather than Cox, would have made more sense on paper.

Yet now, just 20 months removed from the 2020 draft, the Fever have nothing to show for two consecutive lottery picks.

The Fever need to do root cause analysis and figure out what has them in this position. Is poor scouting to blame? The team had two successful lottery picks before 2020 in Teaira McCowan and Kelsey Mitchell, so that feels like a stretch of the imagination. Could poor player development be the issue or just the wrong prioritization of minutes between younger and older players? Maybe, but other youngsters have been able to grow and contribute for the red and blue in recent seasons.

While a search for reasoning behind two unsuccessful top-four picks is necessary, especially with the Fever picking second in the 2022 draft, the answer may be simple: the Fever made the wrong picks. As they have often since Catchings took over as GM in November of 2019. She chose Cox over Chennedy Carter and Crystal Dangerfield in 2020, and she chose Gondrezick over Michaela Onyenwere and Dana Evans. Most experts pegged Cox as a high pick due to her excellent college career, so that selection is defensible in the public eye. But Gondrezick was scarcely identified as a top talent in the 2021 draft, so Catchings will need to reflect on what led her to that pick over another. These last two drafts need to be valuable lessons for a Fever organization with playoff aspirations in 2022.

Beyond Indiana’s decision-making in the past, which deserves criticism, they had to have a reason to move on from Gondrezick. The move(s) they make in response to this waiver could remove some of the shock value. The Fever have two first-round picks in the upcoming draft. But beyond that, perhaps they are opening a roster spot for a Julie Allemand reunion or a larger free-agent signing. Catchings does have money to spend in free agency, so more spaces on the team could be valuable during the ongoing free agency period. This waiver cannot be fully graded yet.

But part of the grade calculus also must be that the Fever invested a lottery pick into Gondrezick, and that is what makes this waiver so stunning. Indiana may have made the right move by cutting bait with a failed pick early and cutting their losses. But they shouldn’t be in a position where that is even an option that is being considered. Now, the franchise must navigate forward with more pressure on the upcoming 2022 draft.

Written by Tony East

Indiana Fever reporter based in Indianapolis. Enjoy a good statistical-based argument.


  1. John Schubert on January 20, 2022 at 8:51 am

    I was disappointed with the decision to waive Cox who was given little opportunity to develop her game with the Fever. I was equally disappointed with the pick of Gondrezick and wasn’t surprised to see that she wasn’t productive. But I was surprised with the timing of her release considering her indicated reason for taking a leave of absence. Over the years the Fever have had more misses than hits with their draft selections. But, these last two years were extremely egregious since both were lottery picks. I don’t know what process is in place for evaluating college talent for the Fever but considering the struggles the Fever have experienced since Stephanie White left as their coach at the end of the 2016 Season there has to be major improvements made or this team will continue to be a second or third tier team in the WNBA.

    • Robert Hamilton on January 20, 2022 at 5:18 pm

      I suggest giving new players a real chance to develop. I feel for these young ladies because what college players come in and becomes what you want right away? They spend their whole life chasing this dream and before they can get lose they’re cut.

  2. Edward Albert on January 20, 2022 at 9:51 am

    A rookie coming into a new system, will take some time to register all aspects of the professional game. The real coach and trainers comes into play in the further development of that player. I understand that an organization want a another championship, but it took time to get the first one for some. What time will give you is time to jell together. Which sometimes takes time. Yes , she made it to the next level so why giveup on her so fast. The lost of her father is heart breaking , for a girl with her mother and father tatent would have taken her a long way. I am most proud of her for reporting to work with the team and to tried to learn more with them on a professional level

  3. Mike D on January 20, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    Catchings, who was a all time talent, must do a better job with drafting players. These two top ten picks this year, must be home runs. The coach and GM positions are probably riding on it. I’m pulling for them!

  4. JKB on January 20, 2022 at 2:56 pm

    problem is Pacers Sports and entertainment organization. simple but unfortunate.

  5. Paulette Stall on January 21, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Sounds more like the GM should be fired.
    This doesn’t void well for WNBA players…..
    Contracts so short..low pay…Zero security.
    I hope KG weighs her options, Italy may be her
    IMO, Catching managing like a college coach,
    Instead of a Professional ball club.

  6. Margaret Hll on January 22, 2022 at 12:27 am

    I watched Kysre play most every game at WVU. Her father was her trainer when she was home during covid. They trainer together every day. His death was a huge loss to Kysre. Shame on the Fever for not giving her more time after returning from her break due to mental health reasons. I certainly hope another team gives her the opportunity she deserves.

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