Howard, a 6-2 backup forward, averaged 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor last year for Minnesota, which won the 2017 WNBA title.
The Storm continued to remake its front line with a trade to add forward Natasha Howard, a four-year veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Lynx.
Seattle swapped its 2018 second-round pick (No. 17 overall) in a deal in that gives Minnesota the right to exchange the team’s 2019 first-round picks.
“Adding Natasha was a significant step in bolstering our interior presence,” president Alisha Valavanis said in a statement released by the Storm. “She is an athletic rebounder and defender; areas we have identified as improvements for our roster.”
Howard, a 6-2 backup forward, averaged 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor for Minnesota, which won the WNBA title. In 2016, she finished the season ranked sixth in the league in field goal percentage at 57.4 percent while averaging 6.7 points and a career-high 3.6 rebounds.
Adding Howard is the latest move by the Storm to improve its depth on the front line. Last week, Seattle signed free agent Courtney Paris, a 6-4 center, to a multi-year deal.
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The Storm’s front line now includes returning starters Breanna Stewart, Crystal Langhorne and Alysha Clark as well as Paris and Howard. Forward Ramu Tokashiki, who has played the past three years in Seattle, will forgo the 2018 season to play with the Japan national team.
First-year coach Dan Hughes, who has made it a priority to bolster the depth in the paint, described Howard as an athletic defender and dynamic scorer.
“She runs the floor (and) actively rebounds,” Hughes said. “Natasha has continued to develop her skills on a Minnesota team that defined success in the WNBA over the past few years and is ready for the opportunity to be a successful part of our future.”
During the WNBA offseason Howard is playing for Zhejiang in China where she’s averaging a team-high 22.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. She was taken No. 5 overall by Indiana in the 2014 WNBA draft and played two seasons with the Fever.