January 9, 2023 

2023 WNBA free agency preview: Dallas Wings

Continuity or change?

Free agency is upon us. The Dallas Wings currently have the talent they need to make a deep run into the playoffs, but it has been mismanaged and underutilized continuously due to the coaching carousel. Now, with Latricia Trammell in tow, will stability reign?

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According to the Dallas Wings salary cap sheet from Her Hoop Stats forward Isabelle Harrison is the only unrestricted free agent (UFA). Guard Marina Mabrey and Center Teaira McCowan are restricted free agents. Both Harrison and Mabrey could be lost in free agency. McCowan was acquired last season and is expected to return in a Wings uniform for 2023.

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The team has been lacking consistency and stability for a while. The main problem has been the constant change in coaching and at some point it has to come to a stop. This could finally happen in 2023 and it begins with what the team can do in free agency. With salary cap a franchise cannot always get the best player so they must be sure to add the right player(s).

This process has been long. The plan for president and CEO Greg Bibb the past few seasons was to aggregate picks and build a championship contending roster through the draft. He has done that and new head coach Latricia Trammell has a lot pieces work with. All she has to do is have a plan that will maximize the team’s talent.

The Dallas Wings react during a WNBA playoff game against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Aug. 21, 2022. (Photo credit: Chris Poss)

In 2022 the Wings averaged 82.9 points per game and their opponents averaged 82.8 points per game. This tiny difference is a clear indicator of what the team needs the most: more defensive stoppers. There is no shortage of scorers in Dallas, led by the one-two punch of all-star guard Arike Ogunbowale, who averaged 19.7 points per game, and Mabrey, who averaged 13.6 points per game. Those two coupled with forwards Allisha Gray, Satou Sabally and a splash of McCowan are a strong core for the team. They cannot outscore everyone, and it will always come down to defense.

If those starters are locked in, the team will have to make sure that they have a strong second unit. The players should not be used a unit that will come in just to allow starters to rest. They should be a group of players that can energize the team defensively and continue to score. Dallas may already have what they need in that respect, but they have not been giving much of a chance to prove it. If the team moves Tyasha Harris to the starting lineup, with 2022 first-round draft pick Veronica Burton coming off of the bench, the team will be able spread the floor from tip due to Harris’ scoring abilities and become more dangerous defensively.

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The second unit will be the difference-makers in 2023 and it should be led by seven year veteran Kayla Thornton. The 6’1 forward is a passionate, defensive minded player that does not care about anything but winning.

Should Dallas keep the 2021 No.1 and No. 2 picks Charli Collier and Awak Kuier?

Absolutely! The former Texas Longhorn Collier and Finland native Kuier averaged 19.2 minutes per game combined in their first two seasons under former head coach Vickie Johnson. These two players provide the length needed to pay against the opponents with long players that can play the three and four positions. With neither one of them getting any significant playing time Harrison was the back up for McCowan. If Harrison is lost during free agency their size and scoring abilities will fill the gap.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Dallas Wings wing Allisha Gray holds the ball above her head as she shoots a three-pointer
Allisha Gray shoots in a game against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on May 26, 2022. (Photo credit: Chris Poss | The Next)

GirlsTalkSports TV reported mid-season that 6’1 guard Allisha Gray is most likely to be traded this off-season. If Gray leaves, it opens a huge hole for this team, offensively and defensively. This could possibly change now that there is a new coaching staff in place or maybe she would just like to get paid more with another franchise that is championship ready. Whatever the case may be if she is traded, Dallas ought to get a huge return with all of the options in free agency available this season.

Worst-case scenario? The Wings could lose Gray to trade, Mabrey and Harrison due to free agency. But trades could prove fruitful, too — for example, Dallas could try to send Gray and Mabrey to Seattle in return for center Ezi Magbegor and forward Gabby Williams and a couple of picks. Free agency offers options, too: like picking up Lexie Brown and Brittney Sykes, both UFAs, from the Los Angeles Sparks, where Trammell last coached.

Then again: changes, by definition, limit continuity.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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