Just after the Storm wrapped up its first WNBA title last summer, coach Anne Donovan looked at the offseason ahead. Knowing other teams would...
Just after the Storm wrapped up its first WNBA title last summer, coach Anne Donovan looked at the offseason ahead. Knowing other teams would come after her championship pieces, she considered losing two starters the worst-case scenario.
It came true earlier this week when forward Kamila Vodichkova went to the Phoenix Mercury after the Storm failed to match her 10-day offer sheet. Reached by phone yesterday, Donovan called Vodichkova the franchise’s “first building block.”
“The love between this city and Kamila is really evident,” Donovan said. “This is a huge loss for the Seattle Storm, a big loss all of us are feeling.”
The roster that won a WNBA championship for Seattle last fall won’t look quite the same next season. That’s because of a flurry of activity in the past few weeks that saw the departure of three Storm players, the re-signing of three Storm players and the signing of a veteran guard.
The Storm simply couldn’t afford to keep Vodichkova for the price that Phoenix offered, not after re-signing forward Janell Burse, guard Betty Lennox and forward Alicia Thompson to higher salaries.
They also signed veteran guard Adrienne Johnson, formerly of the Connecticut Sun, last week, but lost Vodichkova, forward Sheri Sam (Charlotte) and guard Tully Bevilaqua (Indiana) to free agency.
“Three big holes,” Donovan said. “Big voids. We’re trying to plug them.”
On one hand, Donovan can take some solace in the fact that teams are chasing her players in free agency. It shows signs of respect for the Storm’s championship season if nothing else.
On the other hand, the Storm still needs to find two starters to replace Sam and Vodichkova and a role player to replace Bevilaqua, a respected point guard and team leader off the bench.
Asked yesterday if those needs would be addressed via free agency or the draft, Donovan said that it was too early to tell.
“A 6-4 post is difficult to come by,” Donovan said. “That’s why the contract offer was so much from Phoenix. I don’t think we have any illusion that we’ll find a post that fills her shoes. But I do like our roster, and it will be competitive when we return next season.”
The Storm drafted Vodichkova in the first round of the 2000 WNBA draft, making her the first cornerstone of a championship still years in the making. Her new head coach, Carrie Graf, was a Storm assistant in 2002.
“She has a work ethic that will rub off on her teammates,” Graf said in a statement on the team’s Web site. “She brings that hard-working style to every game and every practice.”
Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org