Last week the Sylvia Fowles saga ended as the Chicago Sky traded the All-Star center in a three-team trade with the Minnesota Lynx and Atlanta Dream. Fowles, who chose to sit out the first half of the season until she was granted a trade to Minnesota got her wish.
The Sky sent Fowles to Minnesota along with a 2016 second round pick, Minnesota shipped Damiris Dantas, Reshanda Gray, and a 2016 first round pick to Atlanta, and Atlanta traded center Erika de Souza to Chicago.
All season long Chicago's Achilles heel was their play in the post. A revolving door of center's played in the paint for Chicago that included Clarissa Dos Santos, Jessica Breland, Sasha Goodlett, Victoria Macaulay, and rookie Cheyenne Parker. Parker is clearly the future starting center of the Chicago Sky, but at the moment she's just not ready.
In trading for de Souza Chicago made the best out of a bad situation with Fowles' holdout. Heading into the postseason Chicago could face a cavalcade of impactful centers like Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Bone, Natalie Achonwa, Tina Charles, Brittney Griner, and Sylvia Fowles. It was imperative that they address the center position.
What Erika de Souza brings to the table is experience and toughness. The Brazilian center has participated in four WNBA Finals in nine seasons. She's a 3-time All-Star and the Atlanta Dream's all-time leader in games played, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and double-doubles.
In her first three games as a member of the Sky de Souza has put up modest numbers of 2.7 points per game and 5 rebounds while shooting 26% from the field. Those numbers are well below her career averages of 10.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 53% field goal percentage.
A slow start was expected for Erika de Souza. After playing the last seven and a half years in Atlanta, it is going to take some time to get accustomed to Chicago's schemes and her new teammates. Once she gets acclimated, de Souza just might be the perfect complement to Elena Delle Donne & Co.
Swish Appeal: What did you think when you heard you were coming to Chicago?
Erika de Souza: I'm excited, because I know the team, the teammates, the coach - Pokey [Chatman] want to work with me (for) six years when I play(ed) in Spain. She look for me, she come and talk to me, but I have a contract in Atlanta. Now it's new beginning, it's new teammates, it's new family, and new fans - I'm so excited [laughs].
SA: Did you think you would fit in immediately?
EDS: Yeah, yeah. I'm feeling good - great. My teammates help me a lot. The coaches, the staff, everybody help me. I'll say it again, I'm so excited about being here, about the team, and about everything.
SA: As an opposing player what was your perception of the Chicago Sky?
EDS: I think this is a family. Everybody here helps everybody. They don't care if I'm coming today, yesterday, or tomorrow. Everybody love me right now, everybody help me and support me. I'm so excited and happy to be here.
SA: How has practice been so far?
EDS: It's a little bit difficult because the ladies together for a long time, but everybody help me, everybody talk to me about the team, the staff, everything.
SA: How familiar were you with fellow Brazilian Clarissa Dos Santos before this season?
EDS: My agent is her agent. He helps Clarissa and me and Nadia [Colhado] coming here for WNBA. For me, I bring every Brazilian for the WNBA now here. I think it's a chance for other ladies from Brazil.
SA: You had a rough first game in Phoenix. Were there any jitters or was it just you getting accustomed to a new team?
EDS: My first game I was nervous because I don't know nothing. I come to Atlanta one day, and they tell me. I'm nervous because I don't know nobody, only Clarissa, and the coaches. Now I'm happy, I'm having fun, I'm excited, and I have my new friends and family.
SA: What would you say was your best memory as a member of the Atlanta Dream?
EDS: In 2010 we were the champs of the conference. I stayed for a long time, but now a new beginning. I promise I give my best for the team this year.
SA: You won a championship with L.A. in your rookie season, but didn't get to play much. You also played a key role in 3 Finals visits by the Dream. Based on past experience, what will it take for this Chicago Sky team to not only make it back to the Finals, but win it all?
EDS: I think to stay together. Everybody help everybody, enjoy the games, and have fun. I think that will win the championship.