A former Minnesota Lynx player could be returning to the team in 2024 after not playing in Minnesota or the WNBA the last five seasons.
During ESPN’s WNBA Free Agency Special on Thursday, ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo reported that forward Cecilia Zandalasini could join the Lynx at some point in the 2024 campaign.
Lobo mentioned that Zandalasini, who turns 28 years old in March, has interest in returning to the WNBA and to Minnesota when her time in Italy with Virtus Segafredo Bologna concludes.
Zandalasini played in one full season in the WNBA in 2018 with the Lynx, taking the court in three games the year prior in 2017 during Minnesota’s most recent championship team. In her last season with Minnesota, the Italian forward averaged 5.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists over 16.5 minutes in 29 contests. Over 33 games in the WNBA, Zandalasini holds career averages of 5.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 40.5% from the field, 38.3% from beyond the arc and 84% from the free throw line.
Those who remember Zandalasini a handful of seasons ago remember the type of spark she can bring to the team offensively as well as her ability to play multiple positions.
Her skill shooting the ball from deep specifically could be key for a team that struggled from three in 2023 (if she ultimately joins the squad), especially with Minnesota’s leading 3-point shooter from a year ago, Rachel Banham, leaving the Lynx in free agency to join the Connecticut Sun. And Zandalasini’s versatility matches the type of roster Minnesota has constructed the last couple of years.
Lynx Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Cheryl Reeve has spoken highly of Zandalasini over the years since she last stepped on a WNBA court, so it’s not too much of a surprise to see both sides kicking the tires on reuniting in 2024. Injuries have kept Zandalasini away from the WNBA the last couple of seasons to go along with sitting out the 2020 campaign in the bubble due to person reasons.
Since 2018, Zandalasini has kept herself ready for an opportunity to eventually return to the WNBA, playing for Fenerbahçe in Turkey from 2018-21 before joining Virtus Segafredo Bologna in her home country of Italy, where she has spent the last three years.
Zandalasini has also played for Italy during EuroBasket competition the last three years, averaging 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game over 12 contests.
If Zandalasini decides to come stateside in 2024, there is no timeline for when she needs to arrive by, as she is not subject to the WNBA’s prioritization rule because she only has one full year of W experience. Players with less than three years of experience are not subject to the rule.
Zandalasini and Minnesota could have mutual interest in pairing up again in 2024 after not doing so for the last five seasons. If that does take place, she could be a nice floor spacing role player coming off the Lynx bench this summer as it hopes to improve upon a first-round exit in the playoffs a season ago.