The Dallas Wings were an exciting team that lost a lot of close games early on last season before winning four of five during a stretch that included an upset of the defending champion Storm. They didn’t remain that hot all season, but made the playoffs comofortably (compared to the Liberty at least) as the No. 7 seed.
Some thought before the season that Dallas had a shot at the playoffs because it took Charli Collier and Awak Kuier with the first two picks in the draft. However, Collier and Kuier didn’t contribute much and it was instead the improvement and occasional monster performances of Marina Mabrey and the steadiness of vets Allisha Gray, Isabelle Harrison and Kayla Thornton that guided the team to success. Of course Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally were involved as well as the team’s two All-Stars.
In 2022 free agency, Dallas has a golden opportunity to pick up a very good player to play alongside its young core.
By the numbers*
Free agents (type) (average salary)
Total average salary of free agents: $0
Total team salary (including Astou Ndour-Fall buyout): $1,363,828
Cap space: $15,372
The Wings have 13 players under contract right now. Cutting just one won’t do them much good because, assuming that would be Luisa Geiselsöder, it would leave them with $78,146 of unused cap space. If they cut a second player in addition to Geiselöder, they would have between $146,698 and $151,357 (depending on if they cut Chelsea Dungee or Bella Alarie, respectively) to bring in a big-name free agent. Tyasha Harris seems untouchable, as do Charli Collier and Awak Kuier, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, respectively, in last year’s draft. Alarie is a stretch center/forward who has shown some promise, while Dungee is a flat-out scorer who went at No. 5 in last year’s draft (like Alarie did in 2020) but barely got any playing time in 2021.
Dallas also has two first-round picks (No. 4 and No. 6). It could go after frontcourt stars Shakira Austin (Ole Miss), Naz Hillmon (Michigan) and/or Elissa Cunane (NC State), who are projected to go No.s 3-5 in ESPN’s mock draft, to replace Alarie or go after a phenomenal scorer like Ashley Joens (Iowa State) to replace Dungee. They would have to cut both Alarie and Dungee to keep one of those picks and would have to cut either Harris, Collier or Kuier in addition to keep both.
I don’t know that Hillmon, who ESPN currently has the Wings taking at No. 4, would be worth keeping over Alarie and Dungee when all three are relatively unproven. Hillmon is undersized for a WNBA big at 6-foot-2. Getting Austin (6’5”) would be a different story if she somehow falls past the Dream at No. 3. I might keep her and cut both Alarie and Dungee. Of course, everyone will get to compete in training camp.
Regardless of who the Wings keep for their 10th and 11th players, they will have between $146,698 and $151,357 to spend on a free agent, as mentioned above. I think Tiffany Hayes, Diamond DeShields or Myisha Hines-Allen would be the best options in that pay range.
Hayes ($119,780 in 2021) may cost over $151,357 — she would have made the All-Star Game last year if she wasn't injured at the time of the game. Hines-Allen ($70,040 in 2021) may cost more as well and probably should — she made the All-WNBA Second Team in the wubble. But Hines-Allen is one year removed from that incredible season, so the Wings might be able to get away with paying her less. DeShields ($70,040 in 2021) is even further removed from her All-Star season of 2019 and a lot of people out there are underrating her. She is the most likely to be available and could go for less than $146,698.
Hines-Allen (age 25) and DeShields (age 26) both have superstar potential and could make the Wings a whole lot better. Meanwhile, Hayes (age 31) still has her illy moves and could make a big impact as well. Any one of those players would be a huge get for a team that made the playoffs last year and is going to improve a lot because it has young players.
Kia Nurse ($70,040 in 2021) and Elizabeth Williams ($119,000 in 2021) are both a notch below Hines-Allen, DeShields and Hayes in my opinion, but they are certainly options as well. Sylvia Fowles is tantalizing, but will probably be too expensive despite making just $117,894 last year. Jessica Breland ($145,000 in 2021) is in the pay range and could bring veteran leadership to a young team, but is kind of pricey at her age (33).
* All salary numbers come from Her Hoop Stats