February 5, 2022
How waiving Jazmine Jones, Leaonna Odom impacts Liberty’s offseason
Agent of former Liberty guard blasts team for waiving his client
On Friday afternoon, the New York Liberty announced that the team had placed 2020 draft picks Jazmine Jones and Leaonna Odom on waivers.
Jones was notified of the decision as early as 1:11 AM EST time on Friday. She wrote a series of tweets that expressed disappointment, somber but optimistic about the future. She also drained the seafoam color that was in her Twitter avatar from her logo, hinting that she would no longer be on the Liberty’s roster.
The decision to move on from Odom comes as little surprise due to her lack of playing time in 2021. As I had written on Wednesday, Jones hadn’t grown quickly enough into the player New York wanted her to be. But not all agreed with that assessment.
Public disappointment was also expressed by Jones’ agent Orlando J. Castaño Jr.
Less than ten minutes after the news regarding Jones and Odom, Rachel Galligan of Just Womens Sports and Winsidr reported that the Liberty had re-signed veteran combo forward Rebecca Allen, a report that The Next also confirmed. The two former Liberty players had to be waived in order to clear enough salary cap space for New York to officially bring Allen back.
Jones’ agent Castaño Jr. also took to Instagram. On one of his stories he wrote: “Only in Black History month do you fire 2 Black Women and hire a white on one the same day.”
His Instagram stories that followed that statement included the posts from the Liberty thanking both Jones and Odom for their service and commitment to the team in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Allen, a player who was un-drafted and began her career struggling to get minutes on the floor, has evolved into a dependable presence on both sides of the ball. Her six seasons in the WNBA have all been with New York.
Out of the players currently under contract with the Liberty, seven of the 13 players are Black, including Betnijah Laney, Natasha Howard, DiDi Richards, Michaela Onyenwere, Jocelyn Willoughby, Asia Durr and Paris Kea (who signed a training camp deal in January). That’s around 54 percent, a majority of the current roster.
As to what’s next for Castaño Jr.’s client and Odom, they have five days from the day they were waived to clear waivers. A team like Atlanta could attempt to claim either player while they remain on waivers or could wait until they become unrestricted free agents, who are able to sign with any of the 12 teams under a new contract. And since both have two years of WNBA service, teams can offer either player the $60,471 player minimum. Atlanta needs another shot creator. While Jones didn’t function well initiating the offense in its pick and roll sets, she functions best when she has the ball in her hands and can create going down hill.
A team that could use Odom’s services in particular is the Phoenix Mercury, which contains a roster that has recently loaded up on stars but still has a limited bench and a lack of capable defenders on the wing. Odom could function as a better defensive option who could backup the recently signed and traded for Diamond Deshields. Odom could sign with Phoenix at the $60,471 minimum for players with under three years of service. The Mercury currently have enough cap space to sign two players at either the minimum of 0-2 years of service or the minimum for players with 3+ years of service. They could also sign one player to each type of minimum contract and Phoenix would remain underneath the cap.
As for the Liberty: with Jones and Odom now waived, three players remain from the Liberty’s 2020 draft class — Sabrina Ionescu, Jocelyn Willoughby and Kylee Shook.
Written by Jackie Powell
Jackie Powell covers the New York Liberty and runs social media and engagement strategy for The Next. She also has covered women's basketball for Bleacher Report and her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Harper's Bazaar and SLAM. She also self identifies as a Lady Gaga stan, is a connoisseur of pop music and is a mental health advocate.