Jim Souhan
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Cheryl Reeve is the president of basketball operations and head coach of the Lynx, the head coach of Team USA, a wife, doting mother and advocate for social justice. In her spare time, she wishes she had spare time.

Tuesday, she stood on the Lynx practice courts, running Team USA through a practice, then was asked the difference between the grind of a WNBA season and the fleeting team-building she does for USA Basketball.

She made the former sound like a convection oven, the latter like an air fryer.

"The time you spend with them is so much less,'' she said of Team USA, "that you really get the best of the players. It's a short period of time. I always say that when you go for much longer, you start to see the warts of everything.''

Then again, Reeve might have liked to find out if Breanna Stewart has any warts on her shooting hand.

Many of the best players in the world are in Minneapolis this week. None of them signed with the Lynx in free agency.

Shortly after having her dream of building a WNBA dream team destroyed, Reeve will coach what might be the world's most successful dream team.

The USA women's basketball squad is holding training camp at the Lynx's practice courts.

One team she coaches can't (or shouldn't) lose.

The team she built her reputation coaching may not be invested in winning this season.

The Lynx's dream for a dream team was to sign Stewart, perhaps the world's best player. Stewart signed with New York.

For a second straight winter, the Lynx tried to sign star point guard Courtney Vandersloot. She signed with New York.

Stewart, Vandersloot and forward Napheesa Collier, a member of Team USA, would have given the Lynx a chance to challenge Las Vegas for the title.

Now the Lynx are without a starting point guard, a starting center and any realistic chance of contending for a title.

One running joke in Reeve's circle the last couple of years was that she could never stomach tanking … unless the prize was Paige Bueckers.

That may no longer be a joke.

The Lynx may tank — lose to procure a high draft pick — whether they want to or not.

The prize could be Bueckers.

Either New York or defending champion Las Vegas is almost certain to win the WNBA title this season. The Lynx have the second pick in the upcoming draft. Bueckers, the former Hopkins star, has talked of staying in school, but she also has dealt with injuries at UConn, and logic may dictate that she enter the draft a year from now.

The Lynx drafting Bueckers would be seen as a marketing coup for the team and the league. It would be far more than that. Bueckers would immediately improve the team and become a fulcrum for recruiting free agents.

For now, Lynx fans will have to settle for Minneapolis remaining a destination for women's basketball.

The Lynx made it so with four titles. The women's Final Four last year was a grand success, the Big Ten women's tournament is coming to Target Center on March 1 and Team USA has been practicing in Minneapolis, too.

Last year Lindsay Whalen was inducted into the basketball hall of fame, highlighting her career at Hutchinson, the University of Minnesota and with the Lynx.

"We're just excited to have the team here in the Minneapolis market,'' Reeve said.

Asked about the Team USA players having just come off a dramatic week of free agency news, Reeve said, "I have no idea where their minds are, with regard to the WNBA and free agency. I think what we typically like to do when we get together is put all the other stuff away and focus on our time together for USAB and our preparation as a team.''

After the disappointments of free agency, Reeve finds herself coaching one dream team, and one deferred-dream team.