The Dream's Debacle: Winners and Losers

As of right now, we don't know what's going to happen in Atlanta before the trade deadline passes. We won't know what Fred Williams said to Angel McCoughtry in today's meeting, and we don't even know if McCoughtry showed up or is still boycotting the Dream. Even so, there are some clear winners and losers in the story so far:


* The Western Conference. The rich get richer. Angel McCoughtry will most likely end up traded to some Western Conference team. The trade will probably take place some time in the off-season. The only question is which team is going to pick up McCoughtry. Undoubtedly, what they have to give up to get her will be less than the on-court value of McCoughtry. (The off-court value of McCoughtry is another question.)

* Fred Williams. For a long time, it looked like Williams would have to wait for both Marynell Meadors and Carol Ross to retire. Now, Ross is gone to Los Angeles and Meadors is out the door, and Fred Williams has a new head coaching job. He put the disciplinary irons to McCoughtry, and if McCoughtry doesn't accept his terms, he can raise his hands, claim "Hey, at least I tried to come to terms with McCoughtry", and get on with rebuilding the team in his image since he also wears the GM hat. Even if McCoughtry comes back, what are the odds that she'd stay? And if the team disappoints on the court without McCoughtry, he has a great excuse.

* McCoughtry's former Atlanta teammates. Any distractions caused by the Meadors-McCoughtry feud are either out the door now, or will be out the door in 2013. This will give the Dream players some breathing room.


* Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry turns out to be the biggest loser here. Without Dream ownership making it clear why they fired Marynell Meadors, everyone is free to conclude that Meadors was at the losing end of a power struggle - and if you're the kind of player who wants to get your coach fired, shouldn't you wait till the end of the season? With McCoughtry staying away from the Dream even after Meadors was fired, she faces the danger of looking like the kind of player that puts her own imperceptible needs over the team's.

* Dream ownership. The overwhelming consensus is that the new ownership handled the situation badly. Firing Meadors on her birthday was the start. No comment to either internet or print press. If Meadors was fired to placate McCoughtry, it doesn't seem to be working; a move that backfired. The impression is that the front office is adrift.

* Marynell Meadors. You build up a franchise from the ground up and this is the thanks you get for it? In most cases, the front office backs the coach in a coach-player dispute, particularly in the WNBA where the league is bigger than the team. If she gets hired by another team - either as a head coach or as an assistant - every coach/player kerfuffle is going to be under a magnifying glass, perhaps unfairly.


* Atlanta Dream fans. The Dream fans only care if the team wins. McCoughtry is not Candace Parker or Lauren Jackson; people aren't going to come to a game to specifically watch her play. If the Dream wins, fans will forget about McCoughtry the same way they forgot about Chamique Holdsclaw. If the Dream loses, the fans will take their wrath out on somebody.

* The league. The bad news is that McCoughtry's fit might encourage other players to do the same thing - "if I don't get what I want, I go to Europe." The good news is that the Dream made the press - the drama in Atlanta was seen as an Important Thing and might focus a few more eyes at the WNBA.