The Minnesota Lynx are starting to shuffle their roster three games into the shortened 22-game regular season.
On Thursday, before the Lynx took the court against the Chicago Sky at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Minnesota announced it waived forward Karima Christmas-Kelly and added forward Erica McCall via waivers to change up the look of the roster and rotation.
Their decision to waive Christmas-Kelly comes after the veteran captain suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles in her right ankle on Tuesday against the Seattle Storm, cutting her year short once again after playing in just six games in both 2018 and 2019 after undergoing knee surgeries in both seasons.
For McCall, she immediately helps with the depth of the Lynx frontcourt and provides Minnesota with a body right away to throw into the mix if needed as the season progresses.
“YOU HOPE IT’S NOT THE END”
There is never a good time to experience an injury as a player, let alone another season-ending injury like Christmas-Kelly is once again going through.
Christmas-Kelly, who signed with the Lynx prior to the start of the 2019 season, played with Minnesota in just a handful of contests a year ago before missing the rest of the season with a right knee injury.
Going into 2020, Christmas-Kelly and Minnesota had high hopes for the forward after her admirable effort to get back onto the floor. That resulted in Christmas-Kelly becoming one of the three Lynx captains alongside Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier.
Then, during just the second game of the new year after getting back to being healthy, that all came to a screeching halt once again for the 30-year-old.
“Karima is a captain of our team. We had lengthy conversations after the injury making sure she understood how much we appreciate her,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said on Thursday. “I just told her that after our first game just how much we appreciate her and how she conducts her business.”
As she evaluates her options when it comes to rehab and potential surgery on her ruptured Achilles, Christmas-Kelly’s journey to trying to battle back from another injury will begin immediately. And Reeve hopes this ultimately isn’t the last we see of the forward in a Lynx uniform moving forward.
“We all feel badly about it. We talked about how she did everything right and that we support her,” Reeve said. “We advised her, from a roster standpoint, that we would probably need her position and talked through what that would look like so she was in the know in making room for Erica.
“It’s one of those things that you hope it’s not the end, meaning her relationship with the Lynx. That’s what we talked about, this is about now. We know she has rehab ahead of her and we’ll see what happens when we get to the other side of that.”
TAKING A SHOT WITH MCCALL
To try and replace the void left behind by Christmas-Kelly, the Lynx added another forward in McCall off of the waiver wire on Thursday.
Since McCall was already in the bubble at IMG Academy, having started the 2020 season with the Atlanta Dream, the move made sense for both sides to take a chance on McCall at least for the time being. She was even able to suit up for Minnesota’s game against Chicago on Thursday.
“We saw an opportunity, being down a player with Karima and having a player already here in the bubble,” Reeve said. “She was playing with Atlanta as a replacement player. She became available to us and we thought we would take an opportunity to see what she was about.”
McCall played in one game with Atlanta earlier this year, playing five minutes off the bench while recording a pair of rebounds and a steal for the Dream.
In her fourth WNBA season, McCall spent the first three years of her career with the Indiana Fever, appearing in a total of 79 contests during that span. She holds career averages of 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, shooting 37.1% from the floor and 73.5% from the free throw line.
“When she got away from Indiana, she was a player we talked about,” Reeve said of the newest Lynx forward. “I don’t think we should expect to see heavy minutes (in her first game) necessarily or ever, but it’s more to bolster that post group so we have bodies to get through this thing.”