The Storm trimmed its bloated 20-player training camp roster to 13 following a series of moves Thursday afternoon.
Seattle temporarily suspended reserves Epiphanny Prince and Mercedes Russell, who were teammates for a Turkish team and recently concluded playing overseas.
The Storm’s transactions, which were announced shortly after the WNBA’s deadline to submit opening-day rosters, allows the team to exceed the league’s maximum of 12 players.
However, the salaries for Prince and Russell still count against the WNBA’s $1.3 million salary cap, which makes the moves costly for the Storm. Seattle has a projected salary cap of $1.2 million, according to Herhoopsstats.com.
Temporarily suspending Prince and Russell allows the Storm to retain veteran forward Stephanie Talbot and rookie guard Kiana Williams, who both stood out during the team’s training camp.
Williams, the former Stanford star taken in the second round of this year’s WNBA draft, scored 12 points in 15 minutes off the bench in Monday’s closed-door scrimmage against the Phoenix Mercury.
Meanwhile, Talbot tallied 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 10 minutes as a reserve during the scrimmage. She also started Seattle’s 88-71 exhibition win at Phoenix last week.
The Storm will need to release someone when Prince and Russell rejoin the Storm, but the final spot on the team isn’t necessarily a choice between Talbot or Williams.
“I think they can play their way on the team to be honest with you,” coach Dan Hughes said in a Zoom interview. “One of the things that Kiana and Stephanie offer, especially in this situation we’re in right now, is they can play multiple positions and their versatility.
“I’m not sure the choice will come there. There’s a chance that they are valuable to us and so valuable that it may come in some other places. It’s still a little fluid as I’ve told a lot of players that are kind of in that group.”
Talbot, who sat out last season and arrived via an offseason trade that sent Sami Whitcomb to New York, has been one of the biggest early surprises of the season.
The 6-foot-2 Australian arrived to Seattle with modest expectations and two weeks later the training-camp invite is battling heralded newcomer Katie Lou Samuelson for a starting spot in Saturday’s regular-season opener against Las Vegas.
“Katie Lou has only been here two days and Steph has been here and has a pretty good rhythm there,” Hughes said. “It probably will be between them two.”
Thursday marked the first team workout for Mikiah ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan and Samuelson.
It was also the last day with the Storm for rookies Kitija Laksa, N’dea Jones and Haley Gorecki who were waived after practice.
Releasing Laksa was a bit of a surprise considering the Storm selected the Latvian guard 11th overall in the first round of the 2020 WNBA draft. She also had an impressive debut while scoring 13 points in the exhibition and tallying 11 in the scrimmage.
Despite displaying potential as three-point shooters, Laksa and Gorecki, drafted in the third round last year, proved to be expendable due to their defense.
“Those were hard cuts,” Hughes said. “In a better world I would have liked to have seen a way we could have kept them. They’ll play in the league I think at some point. Both of them defensively, have some ground to cover, but offensively they can shoot the ball. It was real hard. I don’t feel very good right now.
“I’ve been through about 20 of these days and I never feel good on these days because I can envision some of those players playing in the league and I think they will. And we’ll keep them on our radar. It’s not like we’ve totaled moved into some place where we won’t think about them. I just never feel good on this cutdown day.
Earlier this week, Seattle released Tamera Young, Natalie Kucowski, Brittany Brown and Peyton Williams.
Storm opening-day roster
G – Sue Bird
F – Kennedy Burke
G – Jordin Canada
F – Candice Dupree
F – Mikiah Herbert Harrigan
G – Jewell Loyd
C – Ezi Magbegor
G – Epiphanny Prince*
G – Mercedes Russell*
F – Katie Lou Samuelson
F – Breanna Stewart
F – Stephanie Talbot
G – Kiana Williams