Free agency in the WNBA has slowed to a creep. Yet, four names stick out as remaining unsigned: Rebekkah Brunson, Kia Vaughn, Chelsea Gray and Tina Charles.
Rebekkah Brunson has started every game she has played as a member of the Minnesota Lynx. She joined the team in 2010 through the dispersal draft after the dissolution of the Sacramento Monarchs. The forward is 37 years old and dealing with symptoms of a concussion she suffered last season. However, in an interview with the Star Tribune in January, Brunson said, “If there should be any speculation about what I’m doing, it should be speculation that I’m playing.”
Minnesota seems like the logical spot, as she would provide veteran leadership and continuity to a squad that is without its long-time starters in Maya Moore (sabbatical) and Lindsey Whalen (retirement).
Kia Vaughn has been a consistent and reliable center for the New York Liberty. Vaughn is not a must-sign player but she is a solid player who can provide quality minutes for any team in the league. She started 27 games for the Liberty last year and it is quite interesting to see a player that has been relied on remain unsigned.
The Liberty did take two post players in the draft, Han Xu out of China and Megan Huff out of Utah. The Liberty appear to be moving on with the two rookies and some of their younger post players such as Amanda Zahui, Kiah Stokes, and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe. If Vaughn remains unsigned, she could be fill a spot left empty by injury later in the season.
The last of the restricted
Chelsea Gray was the only the member of the Los Angeles Sparks to start all 34 games last season. In fact, Gray has started 88 consecutive games for the Sparks. And she is entering her fifth season in the league as a point guard who could start for any team.
With 12 days until the start of training camp, Gray is the only restricted free agent not to be signed yet. Sparks coach Derek Fisher would surely like to have his point guard signed by the time camp starts. It may be true, as speculated, that the trade of Odyssey Sims to Minnesota was a way to free up money for Gray.
Since no other teams have signed Gray to an offer sheet, it seems she will be back with LA by the time the season starts.
A peculiar situation
By this time last year, Tina Charles had already re-signed with the Liberty. Charles was labeled as a Core Player once again this year, but she remains unsigned. The designation means the Liberty have no competition in the negotiation process with Charles. Given the quiet and somewhat secretive nature of WNBA contract negotiations, it is difficult to speculate as to what may be holding up the completion of her new contract.
For the Liberty, they simply need to get the deal done. The Liberty lost Shavonte Zellous to Seattle, and having a player of Charles’ caliber unsigned shows a lack of urgency that is desperately needed for this franchise. This is not something that the franchise wants to have drag out. Charles’ veteran leadership and outstanding play are going to be needed from the very start of the season.
Charles should be back in a Liberty uniform in 2019. Is it just a matter of time, under new team owner Joseph Tsai?