Jon Siegel reports in today's Washington Times that DeLisha Milton-Jones no longer wants to play for the Mystics and has demanded that she be traded -- but only to a team she approves of -- or she will sit out the summer season. The BasketCases are glad that the long-rumored DMJ situation is now finally out in the open so that fans can see the extremely difficult situation that the Mystics have been facing.
As a cored but unsigned player, DMJ has every right under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to veto a trade, and according to the Times she did just that. Apparently, DeLisha would not agree to a proposed deal the Mystics had worked out with Minny, one that would have brought national player-of-the-year Candice Wiggins to D.C.
So there are at least two teams, the Mystics and Minnesota, that we now know DMJ doesn't want to play for. And we certainly get the impression there are plenty of others. Of course, if the Times is reporting this, you can be certain that GMs around the league are (and have been for some time) aware whether their team has made the cut on DeLisha's short list, making it harder for the Mystics to obtain real value for DMJ in a trade.
DeLisha is a veteran All-Star player. She shows up in shape; she puts out great effort on the court; she plays with emotion. She is extemely well-liked and a real favorite among Mystics fans. A player like that with so many plusses should garner exceptional value in return if traded. However, because other teams know when GM Linda Hargrove comes calling that DMJ may likely carry through with her threat not to play this summer, and know that the Mystics wouldn't be calling if their team weren't on the approved list, they are doing their best to steal an All-Star away for less than her full worth. Who can blame those teams for trying?
Anyway, it's sounding to the BasketCases like a lose-lose situation for the Mystics. Either accept a bargain-basement deal, possibly receiving a player in return who may do little or nothing to help the Mystics win (while DMJ will definitely help any team she is traded to!) or allow her to sit out the season, leaving the Mystics with nothing but a huge hole in the roster (but at least succeeding in keeping one of Washington's opponents from getting better at the Mystics' expense). Lose-lose.
And when the team loses (either games or trades), the fans lose too. According to DMJ's agent as quoted in the article, she has "personal issues" with the Mystics. We have no idea what those may be. As we've said, DMJ has been a fan (and BasketCases) favorite since arriving in our nation's capital. Last season, even when she struggled somewhat, she still continued to receive fan support and affection. While we understand players wanting to do what is best for their careers (after all, the WNBA is a business), we also feel, as fans, there's a bit of irony that despite the support the fans gave her last season, DeLisha would rather walk away than play for us, the fans, this summer in Washington. Ouch. DeLisha's agent says that DMJ "realizes" that what she is doing "puts Washington in a difficult situation." You can say that again.
Apart from the fact that the Mystics might lose a critical player, DeLisha's ultimatum has had an impact on other personnel decisions. As Linda Hargrove explains, the DMJ situation "affected what we did in the draft. It affected what we did in free agency. It has kind of affected every decision we made in the offseason."
The Sun's Nykesha Sales is sitting out this summer to recover from injuries. Some foreign WNBA players have missed all or portions of WNBA seasons during Olympic years in order to play with their national teams. But, to date, no American player that we're aware of has sat out a summer because she simply refused to play for the team that held her rights. As fans of the Mystics (and DeLisha!) we fervently hope this is one precedent DeLisha will not set.
Graphic courtesy of Washington Mystics
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In other Mystics news . . . Following her perfomance at Wednesday's open tryouts, local GWU star Sarah-Jo Lawrence was added to the Mystics' training camp roster. Congratulations and good luck to Sarah-Jo!
And speaking of training camp . . . when the doors open on Sunday, there won't be a single player
on the court from the Mystics' 2007 roster. Those players are either rehabbing from off-season surgery, or still playing overseas, or, in the case of DeLisha Milton-Jones
, see above
. In her blog this week, Linda Hargrove
candidly admitted of WNBA training camps that "This is always a difficult time for us as teaching is the focus but much of the teaching is done with players that ultimately won’t make our roster." The BasketCases are certainly looking forward to the return of the veterans and, of course, to Crystal Langhorne's
return from Beijing, where she and former Maryland
teammate Laura Harper
start play tomorrow with the USA Senior National Team in the Good Luck Beijing
Olympic warmup tourney. Good luck indeed!
Finally, don't miss Alana Beard's
blog post today
; it's hysterical!
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Friday Afternoon Update: Maryland Goings and Comings. Coach B announced
this afternoon that Kat Lyons
has been granted a release from the Maryland
program. This comes as no surprise to fans who attended last Sunday's Maryland banquet, where Kat's
unexplained absence was duly noted. Like Coach B
, we wish Kat
all the best.
of the Baltimore Sun has a nice introduction of incoming Terp Dee Liles
. You can find it here