The Lynx acquired Janel McCarville from the Liberty, reuniting her with Lindsay Whalen. The two blossomed in college for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, briefly placing the team at the forefront of the basketball community. The Lynx also acquired a 2014 second-round draft pick from the Shock in exchange for Candice Wiggins in a sign-and-trade deal. The Liberty picked up the rights to Deanna Nolan, the Shock's cored player, shipping Nicole Powell in return. Both teams also swapped 2013 third-round draft picks.
McCarville's acquisition addresses Minnesota's biggest need for the 2013 season, as their interior fragility was heavily exploited in last year's WNBA Finals.
"She will fit in seamlessly with our roster and make an immediate impact this summer," said Lynx executive vice president Roger Griffith. "Her offensive efficiency and defensive presence will be invaluable for our team as we try to reach the Finals for a third consecutive season."
“I can’t wait to team up with Lindsay again; it’s always fun playing alongside a point guard as talented as she is. When you add Seimone, Maya, Rebekkah and the rest of the team, it’s going to be a lot of fun this summer," McCarville said.
The Lynx had planned to make the announcement at 4:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, but the strategy quickly disintegrated thanks to social media buzz. Minutes after posting an announcement teasing the acquisition, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune exposed the scoop. A short time later, McCarville effectively confirmed the move via Twitter, saying "I feel like I am on my way back to the U to play some college ball with (Whalen)."
Fan reaction in Minnesota has been mixed. Some are applauding the move while others ponder how her work ethic and overall health will affect a team whose chemistry has tightened considerably in the last two seasons.
McCarville has not played in the league since 2010, sitting out during John Whisenant's short tenure as Liberty head coach. However, her four seasons with New York were marked by an impressive shooting touch from the floor and free throw line, and McCarville has played overseas in the interim.
In a bit of irony, Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve complimented McCarville's ability to hook up with Minnesota's perimeter players.
“She’s an excellent passing big, which is a perfect fit for our system and a great complement to the high quality three-point shooters that we have on our roster," Reeve said.
Wiggins, one of their perimeter players, was a popular figure during her five seasons at Minnesota. However, after returning from an Achilles tear in 2010, the Stanford alum became a one-dimensional guard on offense, limiting her usefulness to three-point range. Wiggins was the recipient of the league's first Sixth Woman of the Year award during her 2008 rookie season, and played an integral role when the Lynx broke the record for highest field goal percentage in a game last year in a 107-86 win at Tulsa.
Wiggins' move to Tulsa could offer a subtle clue regarding this year's draft order. Speculators have continuously debated who will follow Brittney Griner. Tulsa sits third in the first round, with Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins expected to go in that slot as conventional wisdom believes the Chicago Sky, who picks second, have less incentive to draft a point guard. Basketball fans are familiar with the strong friendship Diggins and Wiggins have, and the reasoning throughout the off-season implies Wiggins desired to hook up with her close comrade.
Meanwhile, Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer continues his crusade to resurrect the old Shock foundation for his impending return. When Detroit relocated to Tulsa after 2009, Nolan opted not to follow the team and participated exclusively in overseas play. Although sources indicate Nolan would not be able to play until 2014 under her current overseas contract, her loyalty to Laimbeer could lead to an "adjustment" in that provision. The Shock cored her for the last several seasons to prevent another team from obtaining her rights for free.
Nolan, frequently referred to by her nickname "Tweety" at Detroit, posted a career-high in scoring in her last season with the old Shock, and gained immortality with a clutch three-pointer in the deciding game of the 2003 WNBA Finals to give Laimbeer and Detroit their first of three titles.
Powell may have a tough time fitting in at Tulsa, but should bolster their interior, especially if the Liz Cambage saga does not find a happy ending. Powell's long range will be a likely asset, hovering near the top 10 in three-point accuracy last season.