February 1st marked the opening of the WNBA’s free agency period and the Minnesota Lynx acted quickly to sign two players.
The first is Lynx legend Seimone Augustus. The four-time champion is the franchise leader in games played and points scored. After the 2018 campaign there was some question whether Augustus would retire from basketball but she will indeed return for her 14th season in Minnesota. Amazingly, this is Augustus’ first offseason in which she has reached free agency. The Lynx drafted her in 2006 and managed to core/extend her contracts over the last decade-plus.
Whether you look at raw numbers like three point percentage, rebounds and assists or just use the eye test there’s no denying that her overall game declined last summer. At nearly 35 years old she can no longer stay in front of the league’s starting guards. However, Augustus can still provide immense value on the offensive end. She’s still a fantastic mid-range shooter and can use her handle to get into the paint for floaters.
Augustus’ locker room presence helps set the tone for the culture built by head coach/GM Cheryl Reeve. Even if she can’t contribute on the floor as she did in the past, Augustus is a fan favorite who’s number will someday hang in the Target Center rafters, as well as a key piece to the identity of the team.
Minnesota also came to terms with veteran forward Karima Christmas-Kelly. As a member of the Dallas Wings she only played in six games in 2018 following season-ending knee surgery but is expected to be 100% healthy for April’s training camp. The two seasons preceding the injury were tremendous for Christmas-Kelly in Dallas. Minnesota will be hoping she can return to those heights this upcoming summer.
Versatility is the name of the game with Christmas-Kelly. She’s a 6’0” guard with the ability to defend the 2-4 positions on the court. She’s one of the best players in the league at getting to the free throw line and can be effective in any number of lineup combinations. There are legitimate concerns about her ability to stretch the floor for Minnesota. In 2016 and 2017 combined she shot only 30% on 209 attempts. With a projected starting back court featuring other non-shooters like Danielle Robinson and Augustus, that’s not going to be good enough for an offense running through Sylvia Fowles.
Augustus and Christmas-Kelly are above-average starting talents that bring professionalism and veteran savvy to the Lynx. Unfortunately, a dark cloud hangs over the franchise with the uncertainly around Maya Moore’s 2019 season. The importance of what Moore decides to do this summer cannot be overstated. These dual signings are only the beginning of an extremely interesting offseason for the Lynx.