It doesn’t make sense for an organization like Seattle to get rid of its two perennial all-stars in Jackson and Bird in an all-out attempt to rebuild.
Sue Bird is still playing at a productive level, even if she did have an off-year. Keep in mind, she had to spend time readjusting to the level of WNBA play after missing an entire season to re-hab her knee. The Storm can work her strengths into their rotation, and in a playoff situation, with the game on the line, her experience counts for a heck of a lot more than youthfulness and speed. Jackson, for that matter, has had her share of injuries, but if she comes back healthy (and that is a verifiable "if"), she adds a lot to this team. But I don’t think she comes back to play for another team at this stage in her career. It would be like the Spurs trading Tim Duncan.
So with that, Seattle does have some players that could be traded to improve the team. Even the #1 pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft should be considered.
The WNBA is unlike most of the other leagues we’re used to watching. For the most part, the talent level is pretty even, and there’s a LOT of parity. A few teams stand out clearly as being above the rest, and the one thing those teams have in common is that they all (through sheer luck) received game changing players as a result of the WNBA Draft.
Phoenix and Minnesota would NOT be the teams they’ve become known to be without drafting Maya Moore and Griner in the past few years. Minnesota had most of the same core pieces (Whalen, Brunson, Augustus) before receiving Moore in ‘11, and look at the result. They were still a lottery team. Injuries played a factor, but I would argue that her addition turned them a completely different team. Teams these days seem to need a dynamic superstar (or 2 or 3), and a host of other really good role players in order to be in that upper echelon of the league right now. Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault has shown us that the caliber of coach a team has can affect the end result in a season, but I firmly believe that’s more a result of him getting his players to buy into his system completely.
Brian Agler has a good system, and it just happens to be built around grizzled veterans making smart plays in tough situations. He recognizes that youth is a key factor as well, and he has added younger players to the team, and quite frankly I would have liked to see him keep Michelle Plouffe this past season instead of waiving her for Nicole Powell, who had been recently cut by Tulsa. But his system has proven to be successful in the past. It just needs to be modified each year to adapt to how the league changes.
On the topic of the Tulsa Shock – they’ve been collecting lottery pieces for years, have a good coach, but still can’t seem to climb any higher than fifth place in the west. Part of that is because of the competition level in that conference. But consider how different things might be for them had they actually won the rights to draft Moore, Griner, and/or Delle Donne. With all of the other pieces they have in place, I don’t see things turning out the same for them. For now though, they’ll stay competitive with teams like Seattle and San Antonio, even though they have significantly more youth on their roster.
So I guess my point is this: Seattle is competitive (even if they had an off-year). Most teams in the league are pretty competitive right now. Sure teams sometimes need to shake things up in order to go further than they otherwise might be able to. But I don’t think the league has any teams that need to throw away their current system and start "completely fresh" right now.
These teams ALL have a plan to continue to compete, and if they don’t, that’s just bad business. I know the folks at Force 10 Hoops believe in their plan enough to hang with most of the rest of the teams in the league. And who knows? If one of those teams happens to miss out on the playoffs next year after a full season of playing competitive basketball, and THEN happens to win the draft lottery and the rights to draft Breanna Stewart, that team's luck might change.
And if that team happens to have good players to play around Stewart, it too could join Phoenix and Minnesota in that upper echelon of teams. But that’s a gamble. That’s also why it’s called a lottery. You don’t know if you’re going to win the jackpot. If the Storm truly wants to rise above the level that they’re at, then they’d need to be assured to win that #1 pick, which seems even sillier to me. I’d like to see how a team of tested veterans does with a few dynamic young pieces added to their roster.
Wait, didn’t we just see that happen in Phoenix this past year, and in Minnesota a few years back?