The Lynx's journey through free agency got a little more interesting with the news that backup guard Renee Montgomery has signed with Atlanta for the upcoming WNBA season. Meanwhile, the team re-signed forward Rebekkah Brunson, the WNBA record-holder with five titles.
Montgomery's move to the Dream and the retirement of Jia Perkins means Lynx coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve will need to replace her backup backcourt for the upcoming season, when Minnesota will try to repeat as league champions.
"That is basically our reserve backcourt," Reeve said. "So there are openings there."
Montgomery, originally drafted by the Lynx out of Connecticut in 2009, was reacquired in a trade during the 2015 season and was a big part of two Lynx championships.
Last Summer Montgomery, now 31, started 12 games in place of the injured Lindsay Whalen, helping guide the Lynx to the top seed in the playoffs. She averaged 8.0 points and 3.4 assists and shot 35.8 percent on three-pointers last season.
"Thank you to the Minnesota coaches, my teammates, the fans and the Minnesota staff/organization," Montgomery said in an Instagram post. "I learned so much while I was there, and will forever be grateful for the championships we won."
Reeve said Montgomery's big personality and veteran savvy will be missed. Montgomery, a West Virginia native who owns a home in Atlanta, wanted to play in a city closer to her family.
But it does create an opening on the Lynx roster.
Alexis Jones, the Lynx's first-round draft pick a year ago, showed promise as a rookie. Athletic and quick, she averaged 2.6 points and 0.8 assists in 7.3 minutes as a rookie, shooting nearly 38 percent on three-pointers. She showed poise in the playoffs, particularly in the Finals against Los Angeles, when given some playing time.
"She can play both [guard] positions," Reeve said of Jones. "I'm excited for A.J. And she's excited. But I think she'll need help. Renee brought to the table a huge personality, a winner's mentality. She knew what it took to win."
So does Brunson, who has done it four times with the Lynx (and also won an WNBA title with Sacramento). Brunson shot 44.9 percent from the field last season and averaged 10.2 points 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. She also surpassed Tina Thompson for third place on the all-time rebounds list with 3,187.
"From the moment she arrived in Minnesota, Rebekkah has been a vital part of our franchise both on and off the court," Reeve said. "She's a tireless worker and passionate leader and we are thrilled that she's decided to continue her career with us."
Reeve would like to solve the team's need at guard before the draft. And, with the retirement of Plenette Pierson, the Lynx need a backup big, too.
Temi Fagbenle is an option. As a rookie last summer, the 6-4 Fagbenle showed athletic ability and promise but was raw. She has played well for her team in the EuroLeague and Reeve has high hopes for her. But the team also needs to add another veteran big.
The return to the league of Elizabeth Cambage makes that even more important. The 6-8 Cambage, who last played in the WNBA in 2013, is a game-changing player. Her announced return — she will play for Dallas this summer — has enhanced the market for free agent centers and power forwards.
That market might make re-signing free agent forward Natasha Howard more of a challenge.