January 19, 2022
How Megan Walker and yes, Chennedy Carter fit into Atlanta’s 2022 plans
Updates on the Dream's vision for free agency, including notes on Chennedy Carter and Odyssey Sims.
The Atlanta Dream added its first non-training camp contract to the roster on Tuesday afternoon, as it claimed Megan Walker on waivers from the Phoenix Mercury. After having a prolific career at UConn, Walker was drafted ninth by the New York Liberty in 2020 and averaged 4.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists for the Phoenix Mercury last season.
At just 23 years of age, Walker is the sort of bet on upside that Atlanta can afford to make with its open roster spots and cap space, though Phoenix chose to waive the young wing after she logged just 39 minutes of play during the team’s run to the WNBA Finals. According to the Her Hoop Stats CBA Salary Cap breakdown, Walker will have an unprotected contract that sees her earn $70,127 for the upcoming season, with a team option of $79,690 in 2023.
Earlier in the week, the team also announced it would sign Jaylyn Agnew to a training camp contract. While Agnew was one of the nation’s most efficient scorers during her final year at Creighton, she played just 5.9 minutes per game with the Dream in 2020, her only year in the league thus far. 2022 will give her another shot to make the roster.
Padover: “Chennedy is a part of the Dream, and we plan on her being so.”
In an interview with The Next, Dream general manager Dan Padover confirmed that he and the staff have been in touch with Chennedy Carter, and Padover echoed a message that head coach Tanisha Wright gave just weeks before. For them, Chennedy Carter is like every other player currently on its roster: they plans on her being a part of the Dream’s future.
“Since we all took these new roles, we’ve all reached out to Chennedy and been in contact,” Padover said. “I believe that she is a top guard in this league. She’s obviously overseas right now, and like every other player on our roster, we are looking forward to seeing what they have and judging from there. But Chennedy is a part of the Dream and we plan on her being so.”
“I think, for every single player that was on the roster when Tanisha and I got hired, we took a view of ‘We’re ready to roll with these guys, and we hope they’re a part of this for the long run.’ Chennedy is no different.”
Carter, who emerged as one of the league’s most talented guards during her first two seasons on the Dream, averaged 14.2 points in 11 games last year before the team suspended her for the remainder of the season due to ongoing conflict with teammates and conduct detrimental to the team. Through her first two seasons, the Dream are 11-16 (.407) when she plays and 4-23 (.148) when she does not.
Atlanta’s cap breakdown, with updates on Sims, Hawkins and Parker
Currently on Atlanta’s books
- Cheyenne Parker: $190,550, Guaranteed.
- Chennedy Carter: $76,297, Unprotected.
- Aari McDonald: $71,441, Unprotected.
- Megan Walker: $70,127, Unprotected.
- Jaylyn Agnew: $60,471, Training Camp.
When asked about Cheyenne Parker’s plan to return to the Dream next season, Padover said that he and the front office’s only priority is to give her space for her personal life before a return to basketball. Parker gave birth to her daughter Naomi on Dec. 27.
“Being a parent myself, I wouldn’t even beg that question at this moment considering she just had her child — I think life is more important at this moment,” Padover said. “We’ll probably cross that bridge a little further down the road, right, but she’s barely a couple weeks with a newborn.”
Free agents who are able to return to Atlanta.
Important note: Salary projections, when given, are estimated broadly and are based on the current market.
- Blake Dietrick: Unrestricted. If she returns to Atlanta, her contract would likely be unprotected and close to the veteran minimum of $72,141.
- Candice Dupree: Unrestricted. If she returns to Atlanta, it is unclear how much she would earn.
- Tiffany Hayes: Unrestricted. If she returns to Atlanta, it is unclear how much she would earn — but it is likely to comfortably exceed the $119,780 she made in 2021.
- Elizabeth Williams: Unrestricted. If she returns to Atlanta, it is unclear how much she would earn. She made $119,780 in 2021.
- Monique Billings: Restricted. The Dream will be able to match any bid. If returned, it is unclear how much she would earn, but it likely would exceed the veteran minimum of $72,141.
Unlikely to return to Atlanta
Odyssey Sims is unlikely to return to Atlanta in 2022, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Next, following a season in which she averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 assists in solid, albeit occasionally inconsistent play. Though Sims maintained a close relationship with Aari McDonald throughout last season, the team does not perceive her as a strong fit with the players who are currently under contract, nor the culture-building players they’re aiming to bring on board.
- Shekinna Stricklen: Unrestricted.
- Odyssey Sims: Unrestricted.
Out the door
On Jan. 13, the Dream waived Tianna Hawkins after she spent one season in Atlanta. Hawkins was brought to the Dream by the former front office brass, with hopes that she could space the floor and bring a championship culture to the team after she won a title with the Washington Mystics in 2019. Though she had a positive impact on the team’s culture, Hawkins averaged just 4.9 points per game, her lowest output since 2014, and as such, her $144,000 contract was too steep of a price tag for the team to pay.
- Courtney Williams: Unrestricted. Will not return following physical altercation in 2021.
- Crystal Bradford: Unrestricted. Will not return following physical altercation in 2021.
- Tianna Hawkins: On waivers. Waived by the team on Jan. 13.
- Maite Cazorla: Contract suspended for the 2022 season. Personal decision.
What Atlanta can do with its cap space, and the beginning of a plan
With its current cap situation, if the Dream were to keep all five players currently rostered (who are above), as well as its first and second round draft picks, it would still have the space to sign two regular max contracts ($196,267) and a supermax ($228,094) with $154,156 left to fill on either one or two roster spots.
That isn’t to convey that the Dream will take this approach — teams will continue to call with trade offers, and players will be signed for values lower than the maximum. The figures simply convey that, if big names want to come to Atlanta, it can happen. However, at this point in the offseason, it’s mostly unwise to project a cap out with just one guaranteed contract on the roster and trades available.
When asked, Padover added that the team doesn’t necessarily expect to build a team overnight, but he and his staff are excited about the options ahead of them.
As free agency kicks off, Padover, Wright and assistant general manager Darius Taylor are taking on the day-to-day duties for the team, and like any team, are keeping the ownership group up to speed with plans. That is, of course, a shift from last season, when the team did not employ a general manager, which left decisions in the hands of the ownership group and coaching staff.
As they have stressed since they were hired, Padover, Wright and Taylor are most interested in finding good cultural fits for the team.
“To me, right now, what we want is professional basketball players, people that are going to come in every day and do their job.” Padover said. “We want people, whether it’s staff or a player, we want everybody to be looking out for the best interest of their teammates at all times.”
Padover’s message moving ahead is one of a “new beginning,” with new ownership, a new President from the Falcons, a new head coach in Wright and the chance to reset the franchise and build into “one we can all be proud of,” — all in Atlanta, which he said is “usually thought of s an appealing place to our WNBA player body.”
There is no current timeline on when Wright’s coaching staff will be picked or announced, but with draft picks, staff and players, the team’s message has held the same.
“Culture is the number one thing we’re looking for,” Wright said following the WNBA Draft Lottery.
I trust the new staff to build a dynasty out here in Atlanta I know a title is coming soon let go dream dream big play harder – Zabare Royale