January 27, 2024
Minnesota Lynx expected to sign free agent forward Alanna Smith
Cheryl Reeve and the Lynx take their first dip into free agency
The Minnesota Lynx are on the board in WNBA free agency, reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with former Chicago Sky forward Alanna Smith. ESPN’s Alexa Philippou first reported the news. Teams across the league can currently negotiate with free agents, but no deals can be officially inked until Feb. 1.
A veteran of five WNBA seasons, Smith enjoyed her most successful campaign to date in her lone season in Chicago in 2023. The Stanford alum earned a starting spot three games into the season and never relinquished it, averaging career bests in virtually every statistical category while helping the Sky reach the playoffs. Those averages included 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
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Smith’s breakout season in Chicago began with a season-opening win against the Lynx at Target Center in Minneapolis. She shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the 3-point line, to set a then-career high with 15 points. The opening-night fireworks signaled more to come for Smith, as she would eclipse the 15-point mark six times in 2023.
Smith, a member of Australia’s 2020 Olympic team, would add another layer to head coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve’s frontcourt, which already includes Napheesa Collier, Dorka Juhász and Jessica Shepard. Notable among Smith’s career bests in 2023 is what she can provide as a rim protector: She ranked No. 7 in the league in total blocked shots (50) and blocks per game (1.3), per Basketball-Reference.
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The addition of Smith would bring Minnesota’s roster to seven, consisting of Smith, Collier, Juhász, Shepard, Kayla McBride, Diamond Miller and Tiffany Mitchell. The Lynx also extended a reserve qualifying offer to reserve free agent Nikolina Milić on Jan. 12, which would further bolster Minnesota’s frontcourt depth.
From here, the Lynx could look to the rest of the free agency period to add ball-handling and shooting to the roster. Even with Smith in the fold, Minnesota should still have plenty of salary cap flexibility to use on free agents.
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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.