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Lynx roster reshuffling continues for Cheryl Reeve

It won’t end until she has ‘team that we want’

WNBA: Phoenix Mercury at Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve on the sidelines against the Phoenix Mercury during the first half Sept. 17, 2020, at the FELD entertainment complex in Palmetto, Florida.
Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Cheryl Reeve noted how much success the Lynx have had in the past with bringing veterans in to contribute to the franchise’s success. She hoped similar results would be achieved with Angel McCoughtry this season.

Instead, the Lynx and the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer reached a buyout on Thursday.

“I very much wanted to see a different outcome, but it’s beyond our control. I know Angel knows that,” the Lynx coach and general manager said Friday. “She just didn’t quite feel 100 percent (with her knee) and wanted to take some time to get some more strengthening, and that sort of thing, and see what she can do as far as maybe playing with a team at a different time.”

As to the team’s mutual decision to part ways with Odyssey Sims, Reeve reiterated that the point guard is dealing with a personal matter and will now have time to do so.

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Those were just the latest revelations this week, leading to more turnover in what’s been a revolving Lynx’s roster in the early stages of the season. Three days before the season started, Reeve was reshuffling the deck by waiving point guards Layshia Clarendon and Crystal Dangerfield and signing Sims.

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Three losses into the season, the roster is again being reshaped. Minnesota announced Friday it signed Moriah Jefferson and Evina Westbrook to contracts, while inking Nikolina Milić, center Hannah Sjerven and guard Yvonne Turner to hardship contracts.

Turner and Milic were previously on hardship deals but had to be released and re-signed for logistical reasons. Sjerven, a Rogers, Minn. native, who Minnesota selected in this spring’s WNBA draft, spent camp with the Lynx.

Westbrook was signed to a hardship deal on Thursday but giving the rookie a season-long contract Friday was the only way to retain her without having to wait another 10 days to re-acquire the guard. Jefferson is a six-year WNBA veteran who Reeve said will start at point guard Saturday against Chicago, just one day after joining the team.

No time to waste.

This is the reality of the Lynx’s season. They’re still waiting for Kayla McBride’s Turkish season to wrap — something that could come as soon as this weekend. Damiris Dantas is at least a couple weeks away from being healthy enough to return to play. Natalie Achonwa is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. Napheesa Collier is expected to miss most, if not all, of this season as she expects her first child.

Concerns about availability seemed to be what led to Clarendon’s departure ahead of the season.

Reeve was asked Friday if she had any regrets about the way she managed the roster to this point in the season.

“I’d have healthy players. That’s what I would do differently,” Reeve said. “We’re just responding to the situations that have arisen.”

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Though it should be pointed out McCoughtry missed last season with an injury, and Clarendon was battling an injury at the end of the 2021 campaign. It’s not a massive surprise those two players weren’t 100 percent at the season’s outset. Still, there was certainly a path for everything working out the way the Lynx hoped it would — it just didn’t come to fruition.

All Reeve can do now is adjust. Reeve noted “it’s never good to be GMing” in the early stages of the season. But she has experience with it. Reeve was tinkering with the roster early last season, as well, when Minnesota opened the campaign in an 0-4 hole.

“I think what’s different this year is just coming out of training camp, we didn’t feel like the team was quite the team we needed it to be at that time that could’ve put the group behind a little bit, in terms of a key position. Who wants to be making changes at the point guard spot 72 hours before the game,” Reeve said. “But here we are, and we’ll do what’s necessary, and we’ll keep tweaking until we feel like we’ve got the team that we want.”

For the team she now has, Reeve is “turning up the fire on expectations.” There will be accountability on effort and toughness, two traits Reeve despises having to coach.

“And frankly, if we keep asking you to do it over and over again, we start to come to an assumption that you can’t do it, and that leads to a different decision, you either not playing or not being on the team,” Reeve said. “We’ll do what we have to do to get where we want to go, because there’s only one path, and that path is to be difficult to play with from a physical standpoint, a mental standpoint, your defense, your connection on offense. Obviously, we’re taking steps, but that’s what’s been on our mind.”

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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