After sitting out the first half of the season, Sylvia Fowles has finally made her way out of Chicago. The Minnesota Lynx announced that they have acquired the two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year from the Sky in a three-team trade, that also involved the Atlanta Dream.
Minnesota also received Chicago's second round pick in the 2016 Draft. Damiris Dantas and Reshanda Gray will go to Atlanta, along with the Lynx's 2016 first round pick. For their part, the Sky received veteran center Erika de Souza.
The Lynx get a chance to bolster their frontcourt with a three-time All-Star, adding talent to a team that's already first in the Western Conference. Minnesota had a strong first half of the season, but recent injuries have been a cause for concern.
The team lost starting guard Monica Wright to knee surgery on July 16 before trading her to the Seattle Storm for Renee Montgomery. Guard Seimone Augustus received arthroscopic surgery on her knee, and will be out for at least another month.
Fellow All-Star Lindsay Whalen got poked in the eye in Minnesota's win against Tulsa last week, the second time she's suffered an injury to that same eye. Six years ago, Tamika Catchings poked that same eye, and that injury took about six weeks to heal fully.
Minnesota seems to be bouncing back from those injuries by adding Fowles, whose leadership helped lead the Sky to a 24-10 record in 2013, the best in franchise history. She averaged 16.3 points and a league-high 11.5 rebounds per game in the regular season. Last season, Fowles was limited to 20 games after a hip injury kept her off the court early in the year.
With the only other true center being shipped away as a part of the trade, Fowles has an opportunity to slip right into a significant role if she can knock the rust off quickly. The team already has one of the toughest defenses in the league, and adding the 6-foot-6 center in the middle of the paint will make it even harder for opposing offenses. Her post play should also help take some of the pressure off of Maya Moore, giving the team even more offensive potential.
The Sky, on the other hand, get an end to a situation that has plagued the locker room all season. Even without Fowles, the team is ranked second in the East, boasting an 11-6 record. The addition of Erika de Souza and her defensive intensity down low will undoubtedly help fix some of the Sky's defensive issues.
De Souza's toughness and rebounding give the team an inside presence that's been missing in Fowles absence all year. She has an opportunity to play a significant role in shaping just how deep Chicago's likely playoff run can go.
The Dream are still trying to find their groove this year, and seem to be preparing for the future in acquiring two young players and a first-round draft pick. Damiris Dantas has been solid in her second season in the league.
While her minutes have been somewhat inconsistent year-round, she's shown the ability to have an impact; her best game this year came in a loss against Tulsa, where she had a 15 point, 6 rebound performance, missing only one shot. She competed in the 2012 Olympic Games for her native Brazil, alongside Erika de Souza.
Rookie Reshanda Gray averaged under four minutes a contest with the Lynx, and has an opportunity for a more significant role with the Dream. The 2015 Pac-12 Player of the Year averaged 17.4 points and 7.1 rebounds her senior season at California