Back in December, we discussed the idea of Lawson playing for this team. Many of the thoughts I had then were in regards to the possibility of her coming to DC in exchange for the Mystics' 2014 first round draft pick. I liked her coming here perhaps, but believed that trading a young asset, in particular a first round draft pick would not be in the best interest of the team.
However, if the Mystics could unload one of their veteran players who are not free agents, then it's a deal worth considering. Ultimately, that is what they ended up doing yesterday.
First, you can read Monumental Sports' release here on the move by clicking here and watch Coach T's analysis of the deal in the video above, courtesy of Monumental Network. We have learned that this deal was actually the result of two trades, at least from the Mystics' side. First, they acquired Alex Bentley and the 32nd pick in the 2014 Draft in exchange for Matee Ajavon and the 18th pick. After, they acquired Kara Lawson in exchange for Bentley.
Overall, I think this is a great trade for the Mystics. Here is why:
Lawson to DC, Ajavon to ATL, Bentley to CT
Here's our initial breakdown of the trade when the news broke.
The Mystics have now acquired a respected veteran locker room leader who has numerous accolades
No one on the Mystics current roster has won a WNBA championship as a major contributor, and none have won an Olympic Gold Medal for Team USA. Lawson has done both, having played a major role in the Monarchs' 2005 WNBA title run and also was on the Team USA 2008 Olympic Team. In addition, as Coach T mentioned in the video, she has been very meticulous on her conditioning and diet and this could be carried over to the entire team.
So we're talking about someone who will be respected by the veterans and the younger players on this team for sure.
And speaking about the Mystics not having anyone in consideration for Team USA. They have one now, since Lawson is in consideration.
The Mystics have made a significant alteration to their foundation
Last year, we noted that the Mystics' foundation was basically the same as the 2012 team. Even though Ivory Latta was acquired in free agency last year, the thing is that the team we saw in 2013 was still basically the same as the 2012 team personnel-wise, in particular among those at the top.
With a significant move now made, and after acquiring a player who is familiar with his system, Thibault can accelerate what he wants to do in D.C. over the next several years.
Tayler Hill and the 2014 first round pick (whoever it is) remain in Mystics uniforms
I believe that Hill and the 6th pick are the most important young assets for the team right now. It is a very good thing to see that they were not dealt in the Lawson acquisition because both Hill and the pick will be important building blocks for the team moving forward.
Lawson and Ivory Latta could form a dynamic backcourt for D.C. in 2014
With Hill missing at least some, if not all of this season due to her pregnancy, Lawson will start at guard alongside Ivory Latta. Both guards are good scorers and distributors, so this backcourt could be averaging close to 30 points and 8 assists a game this summer. Both are also very good three point shooters, so this will stretch defenses and give post players more room to operate.
While I'm really happy to see that the Mystics have made a significant change to improve their roster, it is always kind of sad to see any player go. I actually was pleased to see Ajavon improve and regain some consistency during her 2013 season. Without her contributions, the Mystics may not have made the turnaround that they did in order to get into the Playoffs. So we give our best wishes to Ajavon as she heads to Atlanta, where she will have a chance to play alongside Angel McCoughtry, and get reunited with General Manager Angela Taylor who also was with the Mystics from 2009 to 2010.
Now with the Lawson acquisition in the books, you have to wonder if Mike Thibault could be considering trading Crystal Langhorne and/or Monique Currie for other assets. Last year, while he may have considered trading them, they also came off a 5-29 season in 2012, so he may not have been able to get a fair trade because of the team's performance in that year and could have been artificially devalued in the eyes of other GM's in the league.
After all, in 2010, they were major pieces as to why they were 22-12 and earned the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Now that they are coming off a much improved 2013, Thibault could be able to get more value for them if he does go in that direction.
And this, I know, I know. I didn't forget this. The Mystics acquired another player with Washington area ties since Lawson went to nearby West Springfield High School in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Was this move done primarily for regional reasons? Considering that Lawson already has familiarity with Thibault's system, and has been a proven winner, my answer is no. This is a basketball move. Lawson's regional ties are just secondary to what she will provide on the basketball court. And that's what player acquisitions are supposed to be.
Again, this is a great move for the Mystics, and their offseason has only just begun.