All 12 teams are now just a couple days from the Olympic Break and won't be playing again until mid August to allow for Olympians to play for their countries. Most WNBA teams will have at least one player in London, but the players who aren't in the Olympics still can use the time off to recuperate from injuries and refocus, and teams can retool for either a possible playoff run, or perhaps solidify their futures.
Here are three things the Mystics must consider doing during the break.
1. Have the front office say something to the fans in an email and have an open public event regarding this team right now and for the future.
I'm burned out, fans are burned out, and if anyone at Monumental Sports followed the Mystics besides basketball staff, then they have to be burned out too from this horrible stretch of games since the 2011 season. The lack of transparency from ownership is unacceptable.
As of now, I'm on record saying that the organization is on the clock if they still want me to pay up to watch their teams (yes note that I used the word TEAMS). Other Mystics fans who do not want to write their angry thoughts are also ready to pull out. If this means that the Mystics are gone from DC one way or another, yeah, it sucks, but I hope that the "experts at ESPN" don't say that it's because "fans quit on the team."
Monumental Sports really needs to have a truly open forum to allow fans to voice their opinions, one way or another, and until then, it's clear that the organization is putting on the face that "Mystics fans should just be happy a team is even here." This is the most important thing they need to do during the break. Sure a lot of fans will be very angry at them and some may just cuss out the staff, but at least have something for the fans to voice their thoughts.
2. Terminate Trudi Lacey's employment as head coach and GM, and allow an interim head coach to evaluate the team's talent going forward.
This is #2 because #1 is more urgent. #2 is obvious from a basketball standpoint. I already said why over a month ago.
WNBAlien does make a point that it "wouldn't be a surprise" if Lacey remains the GM and head coach because Sheila Johnson and Ted Leonsis may believe that it's better to hope for more lotto balls in order to land a Big Three pick. In addition it is also possible that Lacey may "fire herself" as head coach and promote either Jennifer "Grand Ma Ma" Gillom or Marianne Stanley to be interim head coach. In her last stint in Charlotte, Lacey took herself out as head coach and put in Muggsy Bogues to replace her so he could help put in more butts in seats, but the team soon folded anyway, which further fuels the fire as to why many Mystics fans think that Monumental Sports wants to fold the team so it can just focus on Wizards basketball and Capitals hockey but I believe that is circumstantial. I do not feel that Lacey should relinquish only one position and stay in the other position, under any circumstances. That would be a total joke, and be the basketball version of putting in Sherman "Bingo man" Lewis to run the playbook for Jim Zorn, when he was the head coach of the Redskins.
Let's put it this way: The players' morale is noticeably down. The GM traded younger assets for older players who aren't doing much in most cases. The Head Coach (also the GM) is making changes to the rotations every week and none of them work. Fans are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired of the team's performance. And meanwhile Monumental Sports is more excited about Caps Development Camp, Wizards in the NBA Summer League, and the USA Basketball doubleheader and forgot that the Mystics are embarrassing themselves due to their mismanagement. Either way, keeping Lacey in for the 2nd half of the season can only make things worse for the Mystics in more ways than just losing games. Even if Lacey is kept for the 2nd half of the season, is there no possible way that they could keep her for a third year? Or could it be?
If ownership does the right thing and set up that termination meeting this weekend or next Monday (the sooner the better even if the Team USA thing is going on at the same time), a new coach isn't going to lead the Mystics to the playoffs this year, and they will be last in the East, pretty much no matter what happens. But an interim coach and a public forum with the fans can at least send a message that Monumental Sports knows what's going on, and that something has been done about it.
3. Consider any and all deals for Langhorne, Currie, and Ajavon before the trade deadline. Trade them away for 1st round draft picks in 2013, and/or use them, maybe even all of them to get a legitimate starting backcourt player or a player who can legitimately make plays for others.
Not easy to say, but this must be considered and done for the future of this team. If there was more starting caliber talent on the Mystics right now, I may want to hold onto Lang for as long as I possibly can, but considering that the Mystics are in a really bad situation, they need to rebuild with a new set of talent. That means rebuilding from the ground up and trading away ALL of their best players for future picks and hopefully younger talents who may be effective starters in the future.
Of the remaining Mystics on the roster who aren't part of the big three I mentioned, with the exception of Bobbitt and Thomas, every player can rebound the basketball at a good clip. the biggest need is for a player who can make plays for others but can also score the basketball somewhat efficiently. That usually is filled by a guard. The Mystics really need a guard that is better than who they have on the roster right now.
If they need to trade their entire big three for one starting guard on a another team with many good guards, then that is a trade that must be made because the Mystics need to have good playmaking starting caliber guard, especially a point guard (hopefully younger) and a decent low post option. Michelle Snow is a good enough short term option to be the low post option for now and she does have a mid range shot that is pretty effective given the circumstances.
After trading them all away, a possible starting backcourt of Thomas or Bobbitt and Quinn or Lacy would not be acceptable because none of them can score consistently nor make plays effectively as starters, but Shannon and Natasha do show some sparks as bench players. Noelle can make some threes when she's feeling it, but it is not at a level where I would like her to be. Jasmine can show some good playmaking in spurts, but I haven't seen it consistently.
Bottom line: the Mystics must trade for another decent starting caliber guard (not a superstar, but someone who can hold the fort) who can help distribute the ball effectively to make plays.
Filling in a big hole at a playmaking guard position would help allay some of my concerns about a potential Brittney Griner or Elena Delle Donne hire in 2013 given that they're centers (or in Elena's case a PF/C). Getting them alone in the draft without any backcourt improvements (which are unlikely to happen with free agency) would help even if no changes were made to the roster, but without some decent guards, their offensive talents will not be put to good use. That is why I believe right now that the Mystics are best off by having Skylar Diggins, though Griner's and Delle Donne's talents and abilities are undisputable.
Obviously, the Mystics should look into maximizing their chances for a top 3 pick and perhaps guarantee a top 3 pick by dealing one of their big three to a team that can be safely expected to be in the lottery. Perhaps Langhorne specifically could be traded to Phoenix for their 2013 1st round pick at the last moment, or to New York for their 2013 1st round pick. I do not believe that Tulsa would give up their 1st round pick for Langhorne though she could be a big time force in the front court with Cambage possibly if Tulsa was willing to opt out of the Brittney sweepstakes. But either way, I don't think the Shock should do this ever, so I'll end that talk here. I don't want to trade with NY only because the Libs are in our conference. But if the Mystics can pull such a trade with a potential lottery team, it would guarantee a top 3 pick by having two lottery picks for the draft. They won't fall worse than 3 and 4.
Among the two teams I listed, I think Lang fits better for Phoenix because there really isn't a low post star there right now and Charde isn't at Lang's level of play. She should also get help from the perimeter with Sammy P, DT, Candice and next year, Penny Taylor, unless Taylor or Dupree has to be dealt to Washington to make salaries work.
Perhaps this "blow the team up" idea is a bit too NBA-esque. However, this roster isn't working from the top down. I've already seen our top players play very well here and they still can be good or even great players, but they deserve a chance to play on another team and get away from their current environment.
So there are my thoughts on the Mystics and what they should do specifically during this break.