Determined to do whatever she can to keep the Lynx’s championship window open and still needing to shore up depth at guard, GM/coach Cheryl Reeve went to the past to ensure her team’s immediate future.
The Lynx announced the signing of guard Tanisha Wright — a player who stands 13th all-time in the WNBA in assists (1,231) and 20th in games played (393) — but who also hasn’t played since 2016.
Wright, whose defensive prowess allows her to guard both guards and forwards, left to become an assistant coach at North Carolina-Charlotte last season. But she missed playing. And once Reeve heard that Wright, 34, might be ready for a return, she put on a full-court press.
“She didn’t leave basketball,” Reeve said. “She was coaching, getting on the court. She looks great. I think mentally, she’s excited. That’s important. Some players, they get to a certain point, it gets to be a grind. I think that was probably the case for her, when she decided to take a break from New York.”
The Lynx lost its backup backcourt after winning their fourth title last fall. Renee Montgomery signed as a free agent in Atlanta and Jia Perkins retired.
Minnesota took a big step by acquiring veteran point guard Danielle Robinson from Phoenix in exchange for their first-round draft pick (No. 12 overall) in April’s draft. By signing Wright, the Lynx have added a player who averaged 7.7 points and 3.1 assists throughout her 12-year career, winning a championship ring in 2010 in Seattle, where she started in a backcourt with Sue Bird and played until the move to New York in 2015.
Reeve compared the 5-11 Wright to Rebekkah Brunson in her ability to guard bigger players.
Several teams expressed interest in Wright, according to Reeve. But with owner Glen Taylor getting involved in the process — according to Reeve he was instrumental in talking with Wright and convincing her Minnesota was the place for her return — Wright chose the Lynx.
“Tanisha has been a consummate utility player,” Reeve said. “Whatever we’ll need, she’ll be able to do, whether that means playing behind [Seimone] Augustus, or helping out at point guard. I could see, at times, having a three-guard lineup of Robinson, [Alexis Jones] and Tanisha together.”
Wright was named to the WNBA’s first-team all-defensive team five times (2009, ’10, ’11, ’13 and ’14) and to the second-team twice (2015, ’16). Since that award began in 2005, only three players have been named more times — Tamika Catchings (12), Alana Beard (eight) and Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (eight).
Wright was a first-round pick by Seattle in 2005 out of Penn State. She played the majority of her career there, moving to New York for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Then it was just a matter of getting her to Minnesota. Lindsay Whalen, who played with Wright overseas, raved about her as a teammate, Reeve said. So there is familiarity there.
With that mission accomplished, the Lynx appear to have reached their offseason goals.
Now Reeve and the team will wait for the April 12 draft, where they have two second-round picks and one in the third.
“What we’re hoping to do in the second round is get lucky,” Reeve said.