The 2021 season ended disappointingly for the Mystics as they lost their final game of the season 83-77 and were eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the regular season.
The Mystics were better than their record indicated. They were mired by injuries throughout the season, with Elena Delle Donne only playing three games and Alysha Clark’s season ending before it even began. Also, Emma Meesseman was playing overseas. So, the Mystics were a lot better on paper, and the team never got a real opportunity to be healthy and reach their true potential. Unfortunately, they'll have some tough decisions on what to do, who to move on with, and who to move away from without ever seeing the 2021 team at full strength.
By the numbers*
Free agents (type) (2021 average salary)
- Tina Charles (unrestricted) ($175,000)
- Leilani Mitchell (unrestricted) ($123,500)
- Theresa Plaisance (unrestricted) ($70,040)
- Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (unrestricted) ($24,330)
- Shavonte Zellous (unrestricted) ($70,040)
- Myisha Hines-Allen (unrestricted) ($70,040)
Total average salary of free agents : $532,950
Total team salary: $922,300
Cap space: $456,900
The bad news is the Mystics do not have enough cap space to bring everyone back. The good news is they probably don't need to get everyone back. The only must-bring-back player, in my opinion, is Tina Charles. The Mystics should do everything in their power to ensure Charles returns next season. She is an elite player and was one of the few bright spots during a dark season. They need her back.
Leilani Mitchell is another vital player the Mystics need to decide on. Will her production and role match her salary? Will the Mystics be able to pay both Mitchell and Charles and still have cap space to fill out the roster? It'll likely come down to how much money and security Mitchell wants and if the team is comfortable agreeing to that. I think there’s a 50/50 chance Mitchell returns.
The other players, to me, are more or less expendable. If you want them, you can bring them back on similar deals, and if you're going to move on, you can find similar players for the same type of money. The only other X factor when it comes to the Mystics is Emma Meesseman. Will she be returning to the WNBA this year, and will it be with Washington? It seems that they ended things on good terms, and we know Washington wanted her last year. If she does return, it will likely be a pricey contract that might complicate their salary cap restrictions.
With a disappointing 2021 and six unrestricted free agents, the 2022 Mystics will likely look a lot different from last year’s team. They have the talent and the coaching to be a title contender, but they’ll have to figure out who they need to bring back and who needs to be replaced so they can fine-tune this roster and get it back to the top of the WNBA.
* All salary numbers come from HerHoopStats