A multitude of re-signings had most players sticking with their current WNBA teams as the free agency signing period entered its first full week, but some key transactions led to new dynamics for certain teams that will at least give speculators some material to salivate over before the 2014 season begins in May.
The biggest mover was Katie Douglas, an unrestricted free agent, leaving the Indiana Fever to rejoin her first team, the Connecticut Sun (formerly the Orlando Miracle). Douglas spent the last five seasons with Indiana and the popular thought suggested she would finish her career in the state she was raised in.
A less surprising move was found in Atlanta, where Erika de Souza re-signed with the Dream. Atlanta used the core designation on the native of Brazil, barring any other team from acquiring her, but her presence in the post will allow for some continuity as the team transitions from Fred Williams to Michael Cooper as head coach.
Most of the teams involved in swaps so far have experienced recent changes in the head coaching department, a trend likely to continue as lineups are tweaked prior to the WNBA Draft on April 14.
Connecticut signs Douglas, keeps Greene and Hightower
Katie Douglas sat out most of the 2013 season due to a bulging disc, playing only two games in what would be her final year with Indiana. She also could not participate in the 2012 WNBA Finals due to an ankle injury, but her teammates compensated to win the championship that year.
“Katie was on our radar throughout the offseason. I believe our fans will embrace her return,” said Chris Sienko, General Manager of Connecticut.
Douglas is ninth in career scoring with 5,172 points.
The Sun also locked in two current players, signing Allison Hightower to a four-year contract and Kalana Greene to a one-year deal.
Phoenix trades Houston to Seattle
Two recent coaching changes in Phoenix put forward Charde Houston in a tough spot, as her previous arrangement with Corey Gaines allowed her style of energetic scoring to excel.
With Sandy Brondello assuming head coaching duties, Houston's defensive liabilities increased in scope enough that Phoenix traded her to Seattle in exchange for Ewelina Kobryn.
Initially, the trade seemed bizarre with Brian Agler's defensive-oriented style, but Lauren Jackson will miss another season due to lingering injuries, and Kobryn last played for the Storm in 2012. Although Sue Bird will return for 2014, Seattle is seeking more punch on offense.
“Charde is a very versatile scorer who is challenging to defend. She will strengthen us offensively," Agler said in a statement.
Erika de Souza stays with Dream
With Atlanta coring center Erika de Souza, signing her was not a difficult proposition. In any case, the 6-foot-5 center will be back to anchor Atlanta's post as the roster undergoes adjustments with Michael Cooper as head coach and Angela Taylor taking the role of general manager.
"Her veteran leadership, competitive nature, and passion for the game are valuable assets," Taylor said.
De Souza earned her second All-Star nod last year and posted career highs in scoring (12.9 points per game) and rebounds (9.9) per game.
Seattle keeps their 'Little' storm
Seattle should have no depth issues at forward this year. Prior to the Houston trade, the Storm re-signed Camille Little to a multi-year deal, reflecting her appreciation for the franchise and its city.
“I love the city and couldn’t be more excited to build on our momentum of last season. Thank you to all the coaches, owners and staff for believing in me,” she said in a statement.
Little averaged 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 2013 as Seattle made an unexpected appearance in the playoffs before suffering a first-round sweep to Minnesota. Although Seattle still lacks a true center without Lauren Jackson, the team has enough forwards where they could see some floor time in that spot.
Coleman builds up 'fever'
With Indiana having a clear opening at wing, restricted free agent Marissa Coleman signed a multi-year contract that the Los Angeles Sparks, her prior team, decided not to match.
Coleman was primarily a bench player during her tenure in Los Angeles, a role that could change with Katie Douglas and Erin Phillips no longer in Indiana.
“Marissa helps us spread the floor with her perimeter shooting and size from the wing,” said President and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf.
Coleman did post a career-high field goal percentage of 43 percent last season, including a 40 percent mark from three-point range.
If Coleman does get slotted at wing, the Fever will likely divert their efforts to find a shooting guard.