July 3, 2021 

Minnesota Lynx waive Banham, sign Clarendon to rest of season contract

A series of complicated roster moves finalizes Clarendon's place on the Lynx roster

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Photo of Layshia Clarendon with text ‘Here to Stay’ (photo via Minnesota Lynx Twitter)

After a series of hardship signings, contract terminations and re-signings, Layshia Clarendon (he/she/they) was officially signed for the remainder of the season by the Minnesota Lynx. 

Clarendon originally signed with the team under a hardship contract on May 30. Since that first signing, their contract has been terminated and re-signed multiple times, to stay consistent within the hardship signing rules. But since her first game in a Lynx uniform, Clarendon has made a strong case that they belonged permanently on this roster and it was only a matter of time until the team found a way to keep them for the rest of the season.

The Lynx are 8-3 since Clarendon joined the team. He has started in 10 of Lynx’s last 11 contests with averages of 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 0.5 steals. Clarendon has dished out a total of 54 assists for Minnesota, including a season-high 9 assists in the team’s 87-85 win against the Atlanta Dream on June 23.

In the team’s overtime win against Las Vegas, Clarendon registered a season-high 20 points and recorded 7 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.

When asked what they bring to the team, guard Kayla McBride said, “I think the steadiness is something that we really needed at the beginning of the season. Ever since that first win, you know, I think [Clarendon] just kind of slid right in and was exactly what we needed. Excited about that, excited about having them for the rest of the season. And looking forward to many more wins with them with us.”

“Clearly Layshia’s had tremendous value to our team and we wanted to position ourselves to be able to sign Layshia to a rest of season contract — [to] get off the hardship, so in order to do that, we had to have money,” Lynx general manager and coach Cheryl Reeve said on the latest episode of the Cheryl Reeve Podcast.

On June 28, the Lynx waived guard Rachel Banham, a move that at first glance stunned fans. However, with the desire to get Clarendon on a rest of season contract and the need to free up cap money, the timing was just right. 

“The nuance of the mid-season cut down, where you can waive a player and actually immediately re-sign them as early as July 1, if your cap space allowed, gave us the best case scenario,” Reeve said. “The fewest amount of games missed.”

Waiving Banham and terminating the hardship contract with Clarendon now during the mid-season cut down created the opportunity for the Lynx to re-sign Clarendon to a rest of season contract, allowing the team to add Clarendon back right away for the upcoming game against the Phoenix Mercury.

Layshia Clarendon and Coach Reeve talk strategy at practice the day before their game against the Dallas Wings June 18, 2021 (photo via Minnesota Lynx Twitter)

“It’s been a lot, and I think it’s been a lot for the fans to digest and follow but these were necessary moves to get to our end goal of having Layshia Clarendon on a regular season contract to be with us the rest of the way,” Reeve said.

Fans shouldn’t worry about Banham’s return though, as Reeve assures, “It had everything to do with us trying to manage the cap and [to] get our team whole, so to speak.”

Banham is expected to re-sign with the Lynx and be available for the team’s July 7th contest against the Dallas Wings. Even with the eventual return of Banham, the Lynx still qualify for hardship with less than 10 players available. 

Natalie Achonwa and Aerial Powers are out indefinitely with injuries and rookie first-round pick Rennia Davis is out for the remainder of the season with a left foot stress fracture.

The Lynx have just 8 players available for their July 3 game against the Phoenix Mercury, including Clarendon. The return of Banham will bring the roster to nine available players and the Lynx have four games remaining before the Olympic break.

Written by Alyssa Graham

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