Seattle swaps its sixth and 18th picks in the 2017 WNBA draft in exchange for veteran center Carolyn Swords and a 15th pick.
The Storm upgraded its front line with a three-team trade that brings in fifth-year veteran Carolyn Swords, a 6-foot-6 center who started the past two seasons with the New York Liberty.
Seattle swapped its sixth and 18th picks in the 2017 WNBA draft with the Washington Mystics in exchange for Swords and the Mystics’ No. 15 pick. Washington acquired Swords from New York in exchange for center Kia Vaughn and guard Bria Hartley.
Last season, Swords started all 34 games and averaged a career-high 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
“The No. 1 priority in terms of our roster progression was to add some bulk and some size and some length,” coach Jenny Boucek said. “That’s what we were after. We also had a secondary objective of trying to keep our core group together. We like our core group. We like the momentum with which we finished the season. We liked the chemistry and the camaraderie that we built.
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“We’re a franchise that in large part that has philosophically believed in continuity. We really wanted to try to keep our corps group together while acquiring a quality post player with some size that we don’t have necessarily.”
The Storm, which finished seventh in the 12-team WNBA at 16-18 last year, snapped a two-year playoff drought and lost a first-round single-elimination game to Atlanta. Seattle had the No. 1 overall draft pick the past two years and replenished the roster with budding stars Breanna Stewart and Jewel Loyd.
In essence, the Storm used its first-round pick this year on Swords who adds experience and bolsters a front line that features Stewart, the 6-4 forward Rookie of the Year winner who averaged 18.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 blocks last season.
“Stewie had to bang (centers) all season long and did a valiant effort,” Boucek said. “She did a great job, but it wears her down. It’s not ideal for Stewie. That’s another reason why this makes sense for us to bring somebody that can really bang with the big bigs that we have in this league. Some of them are really dominant players. We’d like to get Stewie out of having to do that all the time.”
Crystal Langhorne, an undersized 6-2 forward, started all 33 games while averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2016. The Storm placed its franchise tag on the eight-year veteran, which binds her to the team for one year.
Langhorne has started every game the past three seasons since joining Seattle in 2014, but it remains to be seen if the Storm will opt for a bigger lineup that includes Swords, Stewart and 5-11 small forward Alysha Clark, who has played the past five seasons in Seattle and started the past three years.
Boucek was unsure at this point if Swords or Langhorne would win the starting job.
“I can’t predetermine that,” Bouckek said. “(Swords) is going to have a valuable role on our team whether she starts or not. … It’s about combinations. It’s about the flow of a game. It’s about matchups. But she gives us a little bit different look that would beneficial in certain matchups.”
Wednesday marks the first day WNBA teams can sign free agents.
Backup guard Monica Wright, who averaged 1.3 points in 16 games last season, is the Storm’s only unrestricted free agent. Backup forward Abby Bishop and reserve center Krystal Thomas are restricted free agents.