February 3, 2023
Bridget Carleton, Lindsay Allen reportedly returning to Minnesota Lynx
Rachel Galligan of Winsidr first reported on the signings.
The first news of Minnesota Lynx free agency has arrived. Rachel Galligan of Winsidr has confirmed the return of guard Lindsay Allen and also reported forward Bridget Carleton is expected to return to the team.
Allen provided depth at the point guard position for the Lynx last season, coming off the bench in nine games and averaging 6.7 points, and 3.4 assists per game. Her best game for Minnesota came in the final outing of the year when she shot 6-of-7 from three-point range to pour in 26 points in just over 26 minutes of playing time. She also dished out six assists in the 90-83 loss to Connecticut.
Prior to joining the Lynx last season, the Notre Dame product won a championship with the Melbourne Boomers in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League. Allen was named Finals MVP in the 2-1 series victory over the Perth Lynx.
At the time of this writing she is the sole point guard on the Lynx roster.
Let’s watch some games together on Playback!
Join your favorite writers from The Next for live college game streams on Playback this season. Check the schedule for your favorite college or conference, or tune in when you have some free time. There is a pretty good chance we will be watching, too!
Bookmark this page so you can join the room. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s easy!
Carleton brings some needed and familiar depth to the Lynx’s frontcourt. The former Iowa State Cyclone star has spent the last three and half seasons in Minnesota, making 27 starts in 90 games for Cheryl Reeve. She averaged 4.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 36 games in 2022.
Carleton endeared herself to Lynx fans back in her first-ever start for the team in the bubble. Starting in place of an injured Sylvia Fowles, Carleton put up a career-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field in a 26-point win against the New York Liberty.
Allen and Carleton join a Lynx roster that currently features Natalie Achonwa, Napheesa Collier, Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers, and Jessica Shepard.
Written by Terry Horstman
Terry Horstman is a Minneapolis-based writer and covers the Minnesota Lynx beat for The Next. He previously wrote about the Minnesota Timberwolves for A Wolf Among Wolves, and his other basketball writing has been published by Flagrant Magazine, HeadFake Hoops, Taco Bell Quarterly, and others. He's the creative nonfiction editor for the sports-themed literary magazine, the Under Review.
You forgot Tiffany Mitchell, whose decision to join the Lynx was reported yesterday afternoon. Actually, given that Mitchell earned more than $148,000 last year and probably would want a salary at least somewhere in the same ballpark in order to sign with us, and given that Carlton would probably command something more than just the bare veteran’s minimum of $74,000, I suspect that there must be some sort of trade in the works. At the start of the free agency period, we had five players under contract (Napheesa, Natalie, KMac, Powers, and Jess) at a combined salary of more than $881,000. Figuring that Mitchell must be earning at least $140,000 (and possibly a little more), that Allen will probably sign for the veteran’s minimum of $74,000, and that Bridget will probably receive somewhere around $100,000, that would add at least another $314,000 to the payroll, bringing us to within about $225,000 of the cap with the need to sign three more players in order to have the minimum eleven-player roster. Unless we are filling out the team with draft picks and with vet minimum players (and I doubt that Reeve would want just a rookie or a vet minimum player being the only backup for Shephard at the center spot, at least until Achonwa is able to return), it’s hard to see how there can’t be a trade.
Could this also be a sign that we are planning on drafting Haley Jones—not Diamond Miller as suggested by Jackie Powell. While Tiffany Mitchell had decent assist numbers playing in Australia this year, she has played shooting guard, not point guard, in the WNBA. Assuming that she wasn’t signed merely as a backup to KMac but to spend significant time on the floor, you might be able to get away without having a true point guard on the floor, and with having Lindsay Allen as your sole player at the position, if you had someone like Jones operating as a kind of point forward.
At 5:30, ESPN reported that Damiris Dantas and Nikolina Milic have also re-signed with the team. How all of these contracts fit under the salary cap is something of a mystery, unless: (1) there is a trade brewing, or (2) the players are signing for less than their FMV in order to be with the team. It will be interesting to see what salaries are reported, and whether Damiris and Tiffany Mitchell have agreed to significant reductions from their 2022 earnings of $129,150 and $148,400 respectively, and whether Bridget and Nikolina have foregone the significant raises that they probably could have received in the market.
Richard Cohen has tweeted that multiple sources confirm that Bridget signed for one year at $91,000 (so slightly less than the $100,000 that I was estimating), and that Tiffany Mitchell signed a two-year contract starting at $135,000 (again, slightly less than the $140,000 that I was projecting). Assuming that Lindsay Allen signed for the veteran’s minimum of $74,305, that means that those three players, plus our existing core of Natalie, Napheesa, Jess, KMac, and Powers, account for exactly $1,181,527 of the $1,420,500 salary cap. It also means we had precisely $238,973 for Damiris (who earned $129,100 last year), for Nikolina (who would have to receive at least $62,285 as the minimum salary for a player with one year of service, but who probably would draw better offers from other teams), and for our number two pick (who must receive a first-year salary of $75,792). Accordingly, the absolute maximum that we could have offered Dantas, assuming that Nikolina was willing to play for the bare minimum and to ignore potentially higher offers, is $100,896.
I suppose this is possible, but even if our signees we’re all willing to be so accommodating in working with the team to keep under the cap (and Dantas would have taken about a $30,000 haircut under this scenario), that leaves us with no money whatever to sign any draft picks other than our first pick at number 2. I really think that there is going to be a trade.
Richyyy just tweeted that Nikolina did not settle for the absolute minimum salary of $62,285. Instead, she capitalized on her promising rookie season and on the interest that this undoubtedly generated around the league by signing a one-year deal for $90,000. That means that, in order for us to retain the cap space necessary to sign the number 2 pick, the most that we could have offered Dantas while still remaining under the cap is $73,181. Basically, the math doesn’t work. Dantas had to receive a minimum salary of $74,305, but she could not received an offer for even the vet minimum if we retained the cap space to sign our draft picks. That means that, unless a trade is brewing to eliminate salary (probably Achonwa’s), then we will not be able to sign either Diamond Miller or Haley Jones, whoever we choose with the second pick! It really doesn’t matter if we have to include a draft pick in order to convince someone to take Achonwa. If we don’t, we can’t use them anyway.
I have to correct the last two posts. $75,792 is what the number 2 pick must earn in year two, not in year one. (I was looking at the wrong column on my rookie salary chart.) In the first year, the number 2 pick is guaranteed only the ordinary veteran’s minimum, or $74,305. That means that with $74,668 in cap space after all of our free agency signings (both Lindsay Allen and Damiris Dantas signed for the veteran’s minimum), we have just barely enough space to sign whoever we dr@ft with the second pick. Without dumping salary, however, we cannot use our other draft picks.
I am very surprised that Damiris re-signed with the team for simply the bare veteran’s minimum. She had a down year last season, but when her three-point shot is on (as it was most definitely in 2019 and 2020 when she was shooting at 40% or better), she is one of the better stretch fours in the league. Anyway, because she was willing to re-up for roughly $55,000 less than what she earned last season, the Lynx don’t necessarily have to dump salary, but could simply stand pat with the players that they’ve signed and whoever they draft at 2.
The main problem with this approach (i.e., simply standing pat and waiting to see if and when Natalie can return), is that we won’t be able to sign any of our other draft picks except for the player drafted at 2. Of course, we could try to roll the 12 and the 16 picks over for draft picks in 2024, but no team with any chance at all of being in the lottery will give up a first round pick, not even for both picks combined. The 2024 draft is the draft of Clark, Bueckers, and Brink, and teams with any chance at being in the lottery won’t be trading away first rounders.
Basically, the Lynx have a choice: (1) they can stand pat and see if they can roll over the 12 and the 16 picks for a pick late in the first round in 2024 (maybe New York or Vegas would want the 12 and the 16 picks to look for players to fill out their benches); or (2) they can try to move Achonwa, maybe by sweetening the pot with the rights to Ceci Zandalasini and/or a second round pick next year. Moving Achonwa would allow us to sign both the 12th and the 16th picks and to go with a twelve-player roster, but management will have to decide what’s the best course.
Dantas was apparently signed to only a training camp contract. I am guessing that means that, if they are able to subtract salary to sign someone other than the number 2 pick in the draft, then a portion of the cap space created will be used to increase Dantas pay so that it’s a little more in line with what a person would have expected her to sign for. On more than one free agency board (see, for example, the Next’s free agency tracker matrix), she received about the same ranking as a free agent as Elizabeth Williams, someone who signed with Chicago for nearly double what Dantas did.