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WNBA Addresses Mercury Pre-season Game In Korea

Early this week there was a report in The Korean Times that said a deal would soon be in place that sent the Championship Phoenix Mercury to Korea to play an exhibition game.

Here's the report:

WKBL Champion Could Face WNBA's Phoenix Mercury
"The talks have reached about 50 percent complete and we will continue to discuss it with the WNBA,’’ a WKBL official told The Korea Times Thursday. According to its plan, the Mercury will play the WKBL winner from the 2009-10 season and the WKBL All-Star team. However, despite the comment from the WKBL, earlier in the day the head of the women’s basketball organization said the deal had been completed. "We have reached an agreement that the 2009 WNBA winner will come here to play in May,’’ WKBL Commissioner Kim Won-kil said according to a local media report. The report said that the commissioner, who has been invited to the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, Texas on Feb. 15 (KST), will finalize all the details at the game.

The Mercury would not comment and referred inquires to the league office who said that they normally don't discuss pre-season schedules until they are released in mid-March. A WNBA spokesperson did leave the door open by saying this in an email to Swish Appeal, "We look forward to ongoing discussions to develop a relationship that will bring the WNBA to Korea."

The possibility of this game raises two points. The first for the Mercury is what promises already to be a limited pre-season and training camp with a number of their top players likely still engaged deep in the Eurocup Tournament.

In 2008 when the WNBA season started early to accommodate the Olympics there were players that arrive just in time for the regular season which left the team without the chance to prepare and gel as a team. This was cited as one of the many reasons why the Mercury didn't make the playoffs coming off their 2007 championship season.

Mix in a trip to Korea and it's bound to disrupt which is already going to be a challenging camp for Coach Gaines.

The second issue is financial. At a time when the league is cutting assistant coaching positions down to one per team and the salary cap was reduced in an attempt to save money, how will the cost of this trip be explained to fans.

Will the costs be covered by a specific sponsor? Will the Korean's pay the expense? Maybe there is a way that this trip actually generates revenue. Those question won't be addressed until (if) this game becomes a reality.