It’s been reported that Lillard has a groin strain and will be getting an MRI in Chicago tomorrow morning.
WNBA Free Agency began on Monday, February 10th and the news started pouring in from media outlets around the league. Five-time All-Star and former #1 overall pick, Angel McCoughtry, is taking her talents to the Las Vegas strip as she signed a multi-year deal with the Las Vegas Aces. The Aces now have four number one overall picks on their roster with Angel McCoughtry (2009), Kelsey Plum (2017), A’Ja Wilson (2018), and Jackie Young (2019); they will certainly be one of the favorites to reach the WNBA Finals. Kristi Toliver, fresh off her championship with the Washington Mystics, is returning back to the Los Angeles Sparks; whom she left to join the Mystics three years ago after winning a championship with LA. All-Star and 2019 MVP candidate, Jonquel Jones, re-signed with the Connecticut Sun. Jones signed a max contract that will keep her with the Sun for the next few years. Likewise, MVP Elena Delle Donne also re-signed with the Washington Mystics on Tuesday. Somewhat to my surprise, the Seattle Storm also made a splash in Free Agency. I wasn’t certain if Seattle would make any major moves due to the number of roster spots available. The team officially announced that they had acquired Morgan Tuck (3rd overall pick in 2016). It initially appeared as if the Storm had just signed the restricted free agent away from Connecticut. But it was later announced that the teams were involved in a sign and trade deal that sent the Storm’s 2020 first-round pick (7th overall) to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for the rights to sign Morgan Tuck to a new contract and the Sun’s first-round pick (11th overall). What are the Storm getting in Morgan Tuck? Tuck is a 6′ 2″ Power Forward who can also play the three; she is best known for being one of the top players on the UConn dynasty that made history winning four consecutive NCAA Women’s National titles alongside Breanna Stewart. Tuck finished her senior season at UConn averaging roughly 14 points and six rebounds per game. She was drafted third overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft to the Connecticut Sun, just behind her two Husky teammates Breanna Stewart (#1 overall) and Moriah Jefferson (#2). Tuck had a reasonably successful rookie season with the Sun, averaging seven points and three rebounds per game. One of the standout games of her rookie season came against Seattle where she scored 20 points in a Connecticut Sun victory. You can watch those highlights here. Unfortunately, her numbers continued to decline each of the past three seasons with limited minutes off the bench. Tuck finished her four years with the Sun averaging 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. It’s possible that Tuck may have been the victim of an extremely deep Connecticut Sun team that featured All-Star post-players, Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas; and for two of her four seasons, she also played behind All-Star Chiney Ogqumike. It very well could have been one of those wrong place at the wrong time situations. I reached out to Jim Clark, a Staff Writer at http://womenshoopsworld.com, to get some additional analysis on Tuck. Clark has watched and covered Tuck in Connecticut during both her time at UConn and with the Connecticut Sun. I asked Clark how Tuck would fit in with the Storm and how her game could complement the team. “Tuck is a tweener. She most likely will be seen as a 3 for the Storm. Her numbers are similar to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, but she is a much better defender. She works well from the high post, and you could run an offense through her, particularly against a zone. She’s a 33-35% three-point shooter. She has a close connection to Breanna Stewart (as college teammates),” Clark said. I then asked what he felt Tuck’s best strengths and attributes were. “Tuck is a very (high IQ) basketball player, a great passer, and an adequate defender. She rarely makes mistakes and is a better than average ball-handler for her size (6’2”). She is a great teammate, with a very even disposition and (displays) confidence on the floor that can calm things down in tense moments. Her chemistry with Stewart should be an asset. She is also an excellent free-throw shooter. She is a good help defender and can guard smaller fours, and slower threes. Her continuing knee problems have slowed her from her college days, “ Jim Clark on Morgan Tuck’s best strengths Lastly, I inquired as to why things just didn’t work out for the former 3rd overall pick in Connecticut. “With the Sun, the most obvious change in her four years was reduced playing time. With Alyssa Thomas playing the four for 30 plus minutes, there wasn’t a lot of four time for Tuck. With the much quicker Bria Holmes becoming the principal sub for Stricklen at the three, there really wasn’t a place for Tuck, except when she was the best player for a particular matchup. She just wasn’t treated as a central part of the team. If she were to play 20 or more minutes in Seattle, her ability to run an offense and to contribute to it, might come back.” Clark added What does the addition of Tuck mean for the Storm? From a roster perspective, Seattle now has 10 players under contract and that does not include Sue Bird who is expected to re-sign with Seattle at some point this off-season. With Bird added to the mix, that leaves just one more roster spot remaining for any additional free agents, their 2019 first-round pick Ezi Magbegor, and the team’s three picks from the 2020 draft. Unless one of the current players is traded away for a future WNBA Draft pick, Seattle will not be able to have both Ezi Magbegor and the 2020 first-round pick make the final roster. The most likely scenario would be to stash Ezi for another season in Australia; especially, because its an Olympic year, and then bring her over in 2021. Where another roster spot or two could open up due to expiring contracts or possibly retirements. This also means that it’s almost a certainty at this point that the Storm’s other remaining Unrestricted Free Agents, Courtney Paris, Shavonte Zellous, and Blake Dietrick will not be returning to Seattle for the 2020 season. Did the Storm value the 7th overall pick? The 2020 WNBA Draft talent pool does not appear to be nearly as deep as last year’s draft. The Storm’s front office must not have been in love with any of the players that were likely to fall to them with the 7th overall pick. Or at the very least, they felt that the addition of Morgan Tuck was greater than anything they could draft at that spot. The team must believe that Tuck still has a lot of untapped potential, similar to how Natasha Howard has greatly blossomed in a new environment playing in Seattle. They may also be factoring in the added bonus of chemistry between UConn alums Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, and Kaleen Mosqueda-Lewis. With Bird added to the mix, the Storm will now have four former Connecticut Huskies playing on the same team. Risks versus reward Morgan has had chronic knee problems throughout her basketball career; which has caused her to miss a number of games both in college and in the pros. She only played in eight games during her sophomore season at UConn due to knee surgery. Tuck also missed 20 games over her first two seasons in the WNBA after having left-knee surgery towards the end of her rookie season. Fortunately, recent history has shown she has been healthy, playing in 67 of her last 68 regular-season games. Tuck clearly has talent. It was on full display during her final six games at UConn in the NCAA Tournament where she averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. She was extremely effective shooting nearly 57% from the floor and almost 42% from beyond the arc. Tuck has the ability to score inside and out. She can beat slower post-players off the dribble, post-up smaller forwards on the low block, and knock down shots from long-distance. Seattle will hope that Tuck is able to recreate some of that UConn magic once given a new opportunity with a new team.
The Seahawks flew to the East Coast to take on the reeling Carolina Panthers and secure a 30-24 victory. This win was also Pete Caroll’s 100th as the Seahawks’ Head Coach. However, while the Seahawks are now 11-3, it came at a cost of a couple of key defensive players. Seattle was successful during their first three drives of the ballgame. After the kickoff, Chris Carson was able to pound the ball downfield, fueled by a 23-yard run, to get the score. Jason Myers missed the PAT to give the Seahawks a 6-0 lead after an 8-play, 74-yard drive. The Panthers’ first drive resulted in a punt to give the ball back to the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was able to find his groove and caught a 44-yard reception from Russell Wilson, who was dialed in throughout the ballgame. Wilson was able to connect with D.K. Metcalf for a 14-yard touchdown. After a successful PAT, the Seahawks were up 13-0 on the 8-play, 84-yard drive. With that touchdown reception, D.K. passed Doug Baldwin for second-most receiving yards by a rookie in Seattle history. The Panthers found some life using the screen pass and jet sweep. Christian McCaffrey, who I believe is undoubtedly the best running back in the league, was able to pound the ball in for a touchdown – completing a 12-play, 75-yard drive. In the second quarter, the Seahawks were facing second down and 18 at their own 17-yard line. Wilson connected on another deep pass to Josh Gordon for a whopping 58 yards. After a few penalties, Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown, ending the 6-play, 80-yard drive. The second half was not as explosive offensively for the Seahawks. They were only able to score another touchdown on a beast of a run by Chris Carson, plus an additional field goal by Jason Myers. The defense took some hits to injuries which allowed the Panthers to capitalize. They scored 17 unanswered points after the Carson touchdown. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had SIX non-starters on the field playing. Pete Caroll commented after the game that “It was a great statement to walk out with a win with those guys playing.” As for the injuries, Caroll mentioned that “[Bobby] Wagner sprained his ankle a little bit. Quandre Diggs sprained his ankle also, but worse than Bobby.” Therefore, time will tell after more tests, more to follow later this week. When asked about players’ status for next week, Pete mentioned that “Ziggy Ansah, Luke Willson, and Mychal Kendricks all have a good chance to be back on the field next week–Luke for sure.” Thrice Picked. Seattle’s linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright collected all three Kyle Allen interceptions today. Wagner had one, Wright had two. Not a runaway. With a banged-up defensive front, the Seahawks were able to limit Christian McCaffrey’s rushing attempts to only 19 carriers for 87 yards. However, they didn’t have an answer to the screens and sweeps. D.J. Moore had 113 receiving yards while McCaffrey collected an additional 88 yards. Christian is the 7th player in history to have 1,200+ rushing and 750+ receiving yards in a season. Seahawks defense tallied three tackles for loss plus a sack on the day. On of the offensive side of the ball for the Seahawks, Wilson was 20 for 26 with two touchdowns. Lockett broke out of his slump and had 120 receiving yards with a touchdown. This is his fourth game with over 100 receiving yards this season. On the ground, Chris Carson had another 100+ yard game, rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The game got close in the fourth quarter when the Panthers were trying to make a comeback, but couldn’t stop Chris Carson’s running game who ultimately sealed the game. Looking ahead, the Seahawks head back home to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Injuries are a factor here, but it might be a good week to let those who are not 100% to rest an additional week before the final regular-season game at home against the 49ers.
Hey, it worked out pretty well the last time, right? After losing backup goalkeeper Bryan Meredith to Inter Miami FC in the expansion draft, the Sounders announced today that they have acquired Stefan Cleveland from Chicago Fire FC in exchange for Seattle’s 2020 SuperDraft first round pick. The Sounders will also acquire Chicago’s second round pick in the same draft. “Following Bryan Meredith’s departure in the Expansion Draft last week, goalkeeper depth became a priority for us this offseason,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Stefan is a young goalkeeper that we look forward to bringing into our current group and working with Tom Dutra once preseason begins.” Cleveland, 6’2″ and 185 lbs, is 25 years old and was selected by the Fire in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft with the 26th overall pick. He spent much of his time on loan with Lansing Ignite FC of the USL League One, making 22 starts. He had a 72% save rate and recorded seven clean sheets. His option was declined by the Fire on November 21. This is the Sounders’ first movement of the offseason. They previously announced that they had declined the options of Jonathan Campbell, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Roman Torres, Victor Rodriguez, Alex Roldan, and Luis Silva. Torres recently penned a heartfelt goodbye to Sounders fans on Twitter. Rodriguez, reportedly, wants to return to Spain. Both those players, along with Campbell, Abdul-Salaam, and Silva, will be eligible for this afternoon’s Re-Entry Draft, which starts today at noon PST. Additionally, defenders Kim Kee-hee and Brad Smith and midfielder Harry Shipp are all out of contract. Conversations with several of these players are ongoing, with the Sounders looking to limit turnover going into the CONCACAF Champions League.
Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett was taken to the hospital for evaluation after suffering a lower leg contusion in Monday night’s game against the 49ers. “Tyler Lockett got a really, a really bad lower leg bruise contusion that caused some issue that we’re working on,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “I can’t tell you much more about it than that right now, but he’s out of here right now to get looked at. It will be okay, but it’s a pretty severe situation for right now for game night.” “Well, I think there was a lot of swelling. The contusion caused a lot of swelling right away. They’ve got stuff, there are concerns about that – So they’ve got to make sure that. There’s a compartment element that they’ve got to make sure. They’ve just got to take care of him.” We are being told that he will remain in the bay area for monitoring following Monday’s win and will not fly home with his teammates. The team is optimistic that he will be ready to go for their week 12 matchup against the Eagles following next weeks bye. Update: Carroll says Lockett is okay and will not require surgery.
I don’t know if Megan Rapinoe has a personal anthem, but it might as well be DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” because, well… that’s all she does. This summer, Reign FC’s Rapinoe led the United States Women’s Team to the World Cup trophy (her second), taking home the Golden Boot (for most goals scored) and Golden Ball (the tournament’s Most Valuable Player) awards along the way. Now, Rapinoe is going to need a bigger trophy case because she’s adding another one to the collection. Rapinoe beat out U.S. teammate Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze to win FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year today at an awards ceremony at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. The vote came from fans, journalists, national team coaches and captains. During the World Cup, Rapinoe scored six goals and three assists in 428 minutes, including two braces and the game winning goal in the final against Netherlands. The team’s coach, Jill Ellis, also won the women’s coach award. Beyond the individual honor, Rapinoe was also named to the FIFA FIFPRO World 11, along with USWNT teammates Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, and Kelly O’Hara. The FIFA FIFPRO World 11 is a collection of players chosen by their peers from around the world. Rapinoe is the second Reign FC player named to the team after goalkeeper Hope Solo, who received the honor in 2015 and 2016. You can catch Rapinoe and the rest of Reign FC as they fight for the NWSL Playoffs this Wednesday, September 25, at Cheney Stadium, taking on the Utah Royals.