The Atlanta Dream jumpstarted the WNBA’s transaction season with a blockbuster trade for Allisha Gray, sending the Dallas Wings two first-round picks, including the No. 3 selection in the upcoming WNBA Draft, in exchange for the guard from Sandersville, Georgia.
While initial reports suggested Gray still intended to exercise her unrestricted free agency next offseason, subsequent reporting has indicated that Gray and her representation will engage in contract extension conversations with Atlanta. In an interview with Dream co-owner Renee Montgomery on her podcast, “Montgomery & Company,” Gray shared her family’s excitement about the opportunity to be in the building for every home game, a sentiment that should give general manager Dan Padover and the Atlanta front office confidence about their ability to agree to a longer-term arrangement with their prize offseason acquisition.
Welcome to the ️! @Graytness_15— Montgomery & Co. Podcast (@MontgomeryCoPod) January 31, 2023
“My parents will be at every single home game.” #AllishaGray’s fam is ready to go watch her play in the ATL!
Since bringing Gray to the A, the Dream have made a couple of moves that, while overshadowed by some of the splashiest free agency decisions in WNBA history, should better situate them to challenge the W’s presumed title-contending titans.
The organization announced that both Nia Coffey and AD will be back with Atlanta next season.
Coffey and the Dream reprised the contract agreed to last offseason, with the six-year vet inking another one-year protected contract for $130,000. The contract suggests Atlanta is confident that Coffey, plagued by a right knee injury that limited her to 16 games in 2022, can return to full health and rediscover the form she showed as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks during the 2021 season, when she averaged career highs in minutes, points and 3-point percentage.
#DoItForTheDream pic.twitter.com/8GOn0nscce— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) February 1, 2023
Until a hip injury and procedure ended her 2022 season, AD was beginning to resemble the player that made them the No. 2 pick out of Louisville in the 2019 WNBA Draft. Empowered by head coach Tanisha Wright upon her midseason arrival from the New York Liberty, AD’s offensive aggression injected needed oomph in an Atlanta attack that often overburdened the creation capacities of Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard.
It makes sense that Dream leadership has chosen to double down on the successful acquisition. However, that Atlanta inked AD to a training camp contract for $74,305 hints at some lingering trepidation, likely due to injury, about AD’s ability to contribute to the final roster. Yet, if AD demonstrates the pop and prowess they flashed during their 15 games in a Dream uniform in training camp, it seems safe to assume that they will make the 2023 roster.
#DoItForTheDream pic.twitter.com/BcWsAJ2YhZ— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) February 1, 2023
These two moves, one permanent and one possible, leaves the Dream with $551,705 in remaining cap space.
Surely, a resolution to Tiffany Hayes’ situation is next on the Atlanta agenda. Due her suspended contract, Hayes can only renegotiate a new contract with the Dream. From there, Atlanta can retain the Dream lifer or trade her to a new destination.
The status of Monique Billings, the second-longest tenured member of the Dream, also remains unresolved. Possibly, Coffey’s circumstance provides a blueprint for Billings’, as the UCLA product could agree to another protected one-year contract of around $140,000, her 2022 salary, to stay in Atlanta in 2023.
In short, for all the understandable attention directed to Sin City and the Big Apple, eyes should also remain on ATL as free agency continues to unfold.