July 3, 2021 

Seattle Storm buy out 7-time All-Star Candice Dupree

The Storm once thought they had something in Dupree; alas, the relationship was not to be

Seattle’s signing of power forward Candice Dupree in February was widely knocked at the time. Five months later, the Storm appear to agree.

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Friday afternoon, Seattle reached an agreement with Dupree to buy out the remainder of her contract — a contract maneuver that the WNBA quite darkly officially refers to as a “divorce agreement.” Dupree will immediately become available on the waiver wire, and either another team will claim her and the remainder of her contract, or she will pass through waivers and the Storm will pay whatever portion of her remaining contract she and the team agreed upon, before becoming a full free agent.

On paper, this move makes sense. Dupree was an odd fit in Seattle’s lineup from day one. She started at power forward in the Storm’s first few games, which necessitated Breanna Stewart playing the five, a trick that really only works when deployed selectively. Once starting center Mercedes Russell became available, Dupree moved to the bench. And while she was a better fit subbing in than starting, that was mainly on account of getting to play her less; as her shooting efficiency has dwindled over recent years, asking Dupree to operate as an ancillary piece makes her effectively unplayable, given her lacking defense and rebounding.

Dupree simply wasn’t a good fit with many players on the roster. She needed to be paired with a center who didn’t need weakside rim protection but wouldn’t muck up the paint on offense, she needed to play alongside wings who could dig on her assignment and a stout point-of-attack defender, and she needed to be with movement shooters to accentuate her acumen at the elbow. That’s why the only two three-person lineups she played at least 75 minutes in with a positive net rating were her with guards Epiphanny Prince and Jordin Canada and with shooting guard Jewell Loyd and Stewart.

Of the 10 players on Seattle’s roster to play at least 100 minutes, Dupree had an on/off net rating of -23.8, by far the worst.

To be clear, Dupree is still a capable scorer and one of the 144 best players in the world. She’s got 6,822 career points, fourth-most all-time according to Across the Timeline, and is without a doubt one of the best players in league history. But her current skillset just didn’t make her one of the 12 best for Seattle.

The Storm will presumably want to fill her roster spot with a forward. According to Richard Cohen of Her Hoop Stats, buying out Dupree saves the Storm at least $28,000, which should leave enough money for them to fill out the open slot however they see fit. But it’s fair to wonder if this move might’ve come a couple of days too late; Lauren Cox, Reshanda Gray and Chelsey Perry are all players that could’ve fit at forward in Seattle but were just signed off free agency in the past couple days. The best free-agent forward at this point might be N’dea Jones, an undersized jack-of-all-trades whom Seattle drafted in the second round this year and cut in training camp.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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