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Lindsey Harding signs with the Los Angeles Sparks

Today, the Los Angeles Sparks announced that they have signed guard Lindsey Harding to a contract. Harding last played for the Atlanta Dream where she has developed into one of the strongest point guards in the WNBA over the last two seasons. Harding was also one of this season's most notable unrestricted free agents.

Lindsey Harding will provide an additional Spark for LA in 2013.
Lindsey Harding will provide an additional Spark for LA in 2013.

Harding was the #1 pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury but was traded that day to the Minnesota Lynx in a deal involving Tangela Smith. She spent two seasons each with the Lynx (2007-2008) and the Washington Mystics (2009-2010) before she was traded to the Dream.

With Harding being added to the Sparks' already talented core, this could take the pressure off of Candace Parker, Alana Beard, and Kristi Toliver, who are all effective distributors, but tend to provide better contributions in other areas. This applies in particular for Toliver, who had a career high in assists with 166 for the season, but also gave up 124 turnovers in the process, so Harding's arrival will take the pressure off of her especially to create for others.

"I want to thank the owners, coaches, players, and most of all the wonderful Atlanta Dream fans for all of their support while making my time in Atlanta memorable," said Harding in the release on the Sparks' website. "Now I'm looking forward to playing for the Los Angeles Sparks and their enthusiastic fans, another organization dedicated to excellence and winning. I'm also thrilled to once-again be coached by Coach Ross while playing alongside an ensemble of talented players, including my college and former Mystics teammate Alana Beard."

For the Atlanta Dream, this loss is significant as the team loses one of its core players that helped lead them to two straight playoff appearances and a trip to the 2011 Finals. This makes the need to pick up another point guard a higher priority for them before the season begins.

While this will be the first of many moves made by all WNBA teams this offseason, Lindsey Harding's signing with the LA Sparks certainly makes them not only a serious contender to win the Western Conference, but also a contender to win the 2013 WNBA Finals.

For more on what this addition might mean for the Sparks, check out our L.A. Sparks offseason storystream. For more on the Dream and what losing Harding might mean for them, visit our Atlanta Dream offseason storystream.