clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2024 WNBA Free Agency: The Atlanta Dream should look to make superstar swings in free agency

Despite making the playoffs for the first time since 2018, the Atlanta Dream’s 2023 season felt disappointing, with the team failing to realize their potential. Can a big free agent or two help the Dream become a consistent winner?

Indiana Fever v Atlanta Dream
Can the Atlanta Dream sign a free agent who elevates the Allisha Gray-Rhyne Howard tandem?
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Dream’s 2023 offseason swing—a trade for Allisha Gray—was a success, as the Georgia native turned in the best season of her seven-year career. However, despite Gray, Rhyne Howard and Cheyenne Parker earning All-Star honors, the Dream were a disappointment, an incredibly inconsistent team that increasingly appeared incapable of reaching, much less sustaining, their potential. Atlanta finished 19-21 and stumbled into the playoffs, somehow securing the No. 5 seed before being summarily swept by the Dallas Wings in the first round.

Ideally, the Dream will use their sack of cap space to sign two high-level starters who can amplify the the Gray-Howard-Parker trio, helping Atlanta alchemize into a threatening squad that can challenge the W’s top teams.


Facts and figures*

Players under contract (contract status; 2024 salary)

  • Laeticia Amihere (unprotected; $72,727)
  • Allisha Gray (protected veteran; $185,000)
  • Naz Hillmon (unprotected; $71,124)
  • Rhyne Howard (unprotected; $80,943)
  • Haley Jones (unprotected; $72,727)
  • Aari McDonald (protected veteran; $89,302)
  • Cheyenne Parker (protected veteran; $200,000)
  • Iliana Rupert (unprotected; $74,398)

Free agent (type; 2023 salary)

  • Monique Billings (unrestricted free agent; $145,000)
  • Maite Cazorla (suspended-contract expired; n/a)
  • Nia Coffey (unrestricted free agent; $135,000)
  • AD Durr (restricted free agent; $74,305) [QO extended 1/16]
  • Danielle Robinson (unrestricted free agent; $155,000)

Total salary of free agents: $509,305

Total team salary: $846,221

Cap space: $616,979

2024 WNBA Draft picks (2024 salary)

  • Round 1, No. 8 ($73,439)
  • Round 2, No. 20 ($67,249)
  • Round 3, No. 32 ($64,154)

Analysis

Atlanta Dream v Washington Mystics
Is Natasha Cloud an option for the Atlanta Dream?
Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

A premier point guard should be priority number one for the Dream. Skylar Diggins-Smith—every fanbase’s favorite free agency target—is the ideal answer to Atlanta’s floor general woes.

Diggins-Smith would provide the Dream offense with organization and intention, while also adding needed self-creation and scoring juice from the point guard position. Defensively, she plays with the kind of aggression desired by head coach Tanisha Wright. On top of all that, Diggins-Smith’s attitude—likely turned up to a higher level in 2024 due to how everything unfolded with the Phoenix Mercury—would inject the too-often wayward Dream with the focus needed to win consistently in the W. Atlanta should go to the greatest lengths required, beginning with a supermax offer of $241,984, to try to convince Diggins-Smith to dream big.

If SDS takes her talents elsewhere, Natasha Cloud appeals as a secondary option. Her future with the Washington Mystics is a bit murky due to the uncertain Elena Delle Donne situation. If the Mystics and Delle Donne, whom the organization cored, decide to part ways, presumably the plan would be to build with Cloud. However, if Cloud, who is an unrestricted free agent, is not receiving desired signals from Washington, Atlanta should be waiting with a high-dollar offer. She brings tangibles and intangibles similar to Diggins-Smith, albeit with more defensive size and less consistent offensive production. Cloud made $188,33 with the Mystics las season.

Intriguing options for ATL

Even if the Dream spend big on a point guard, enough cap space will remain to pursue another star-caliber player. The versatility of the Gray-Howard-Parker trio—with Gray and Howard capable of playing on or off ball on offense and guarding multiple positions on defense, while Parker can function as a 4 or 5—gives Atlanta optionality.

Las Vegas Aces v Atlanta Dream
Rhyne Howard and the Dream could benefit from the high-IQ play of Candace Parker.
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

General manager Dan Padover might be wise to wander over to TNT’s Atlanta studios to have chat with Candace Parker. In November, Parker revealed her intentions for 2024, sharing that, if healthy, she will play. Even if her playing time had to be limited due to lingering injury concerns, her elite basketball IQ would be a boon for Atlanta. The Dream should be willing to give her a one-year balloon contract, as the wisdom she would impart during a single season would be well worth the investment.

The likes of the Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike or the aforementioned Delle Donne (via trade) seem like long shots for Atlanta, but the necessary calls should be made. A more realistic option? The fits-absolutely-everywhere Rebecca Allen. She’s a winner who can drain 3s, hit a shot off the dribble, lockdown opponents on the perimeter and disrupt with blocks and steals. It’s a skillset that fits in Atlanta, and everywhere. The Dream should try to entice the Aussie to the South with a significant raise off her 2023 salary of $138,925 with the Connecticut Sun.

What about Atlanta’s own free agents?

The Dream extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent AD Durr, suggesting the team intends to retain the combo guard. Because of persistent illness and injury troubles, Durr seems unlikely to reach the heights imagined for them when drafted No. 2 overall in 2019; however, AD is capable of coming off the bench, catching fire from midrange and swinging a quarter. A contract around the vet minimum seems likely.

WNBA: JUN 28 Commissioner’s Cup - Atlanta Dream at Washington Mystics
The Dream extended a qualifying offer to restricted free agent AD Durr.
Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Whether or not Atlanta’s more ambitious options materialize, agreeing to a new contract with Nia Coffey would be a worthwhile decision. While injuries have limited her court time in a Dream uniform, she’s been a positive player, with her advanced impact often exceeding her more modest statistics. Last season, she earned $135,000.

The longest-tenured Dream, Monique Billings steadily has expanded her game since Atlanta drafted her in the second round in 2018, all while consistently providing high-energy effort. She’s a solid option as a third or fourth big, but, if Atlanta has success with outside free agents, the organization may look to sign her for less than her 2023 salary of $145,000.


*Thanks to Her Hoop Stats for all salary numbers.