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2022 WNBA Free Agency: Could come down to choice between Mercedes Russell and Jordin Canada for Seattle Storm

The Seattle Storm have two restricted free agents in Mercedes Russell and Jordin Canada who mean a lot to the organization. Will they be back in 2022?

Connecticut Sun v Seattle Storm
Will Mercedes Russell and Jordin Canada, both champions, be deemed the best possible players for their roles on Seattle’s future roster? And if so, can the Storm afford both of them?
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Seattle Storm have cored Jewell Loyd, ensuring that she will return to the team for 2022. Sue Bird has already hinted that she will be returning to Seattle as well and the Storm are obviously going to hand over the supermax to keep Breanna Stewart. Does that big three need a fourth star added to the mix? Or are the current role players on the Storm good enough?


By the numbers*

Free agents (type) (2021 average salary)

  • Sue Bird (unrestricted) ($221,450)
  • Cierra Burdick (unrestricted) ($24,330)
  • Jewell Loyd (cored) ($121,500)
  • Breanna Stewart (unrestricted) ($190,550)
  • Jordin Canada (restricted) ($70,040)
  • Mercedes Russell (restricted) ($70,040)
  • Stephanie Talbot (restricted) ($70,040)
  • Karlie Samuelson (reserved) ($17,304)

Total average salary of free agents: $785,254

Total team salary: $392,964

Cap space: $986,236

Analysis

2021 WNBA Playoffs - Phoenix Mercury v Seattle Storm
Stephanie Talbot (with ball)
Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

The HerHoopStats mock free agency had Tina Charles going to the Storm. That would be a major development so I think it’s worth bringing that up here as a scenario. You can view the YouTube video where the mock free agency team discusses it below. The Tina Charles discussion begins at 27:28:

The Storm could let go of Mercedes Russell, Stephanie Talbot and Epiphanny Prince in a scenario to get Charles. Em Adler, who covers the Storm closely for The Next has Talbot “probably leaving” and Prince “likely to be cut,” though she thinks the team would like to hang on to Talbot if possible. Adler would have the Storm prioritize Russell over Jordin Canada, but in this scenario Charles would replace Russell and you’d still have a great backup center in Ezi Magbegor.

Parting ways with Russell, Talbot and Prince could potentially leave the Storm with enough money to keep Canada and get Charles.

The HerHoopStats mock free agency had fake GM Kevin Pelton of ESPN reaching a deal with Charles for $170,000, just $5,000 below the pay cut she already took to create a winner in Washington. We know Charles has that history of taking a pay cut in pursuit of a championship so this makes sense.

With Charles being paid $170,000, the Storm would keep Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd at the supermax, Katie Lou Samuelson at $72,141, Ezi Magbegor at $60,471, Kennedy Burke at $72,141, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan at $73,211, the No. 9 pick at $66,306, a second-round pick at $63,389 and let go of Cierra Burdick and Karlie Samuelson. That would give them $345,353 to spend between Sue Bird and Canada. If Bird takes the supermax, Canada would get $117,259. If Canada is getting high offers elsewhere, Bird could be willing to take a pay cut like Charles, who is more deserving of the supermax than Bird is given their ages.

Adler does bring up a good point about Canada’s scoring being a question mark though.

There is also a way to keep Russell and Canada. By letting go of the dream to create a superteam with Charles, the Storm could stick with the core that led them to the 2020 championship. They could even keep Talbot and Prince too, which would give them all of their Top 9 scorers and minute-getters from last year. Talbot would be paid $95,000, Prince would take a pay cut to $95,000, and Russell and and Canada could both be paid up to $130,000 if Bird takes a pay cut down to $201,953. Maybe Talbot could be paid a little more and Prince and Canada a little less. The Storm would only keep the No. 9 pick in the draft in this scenario and they'd also give up Herbert Harrigan.

On paper, you’d be returning pretty much all your scoring from last year and hey, this was the team that won the Commissioner’s Cup and it likely would have beaten Phoenix in the playoffs if it had Stewart healthy. But it is unlikely that Seattle will prioritize Prince (age 34) over Herbert Harrigan, who, despite not contributing much as a rookie, is 23 and was the No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft. Burke is third in EuroLeague Women in scoring behind only WNBA stars Kayla McBride and Brionna Jones with 18.9 points per game. So I would definitely hold on to her.

Letting go of Russell, Canada and Prince (and still paying Bird the supermax while keeping Talbot and a second-round pick) would open the door to bring in a free agent at $192,259. That could be Charles or another big star.

Charles is relevant to bring up when talking about the Storm because they’ve won two of the last four championships and they still have the big three that led them there. Charles is only going to be looking at the best of the best teams and Seattle is one of them.


* All salary numbers come from HerHoopStats