Although player signings can’t become official in the WNBA until Feb. 1, the Minnesota Lynx created some news around the league leading up to that date after having reportedly agreed to terms on a deal to bring a new face to the team. On Wednesday, Slam Magazine reported the Lynx have agreed to terms with three-time All-Star guard Kayla McBride on a multi-year contract, a big addition that will improve the starting lineup and guard position in Minnesota.
According to WSlam, which provides coverage of women’s hoops for Slam Magazine, McBride recently spoke with Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, later agreeing to join Minnesota as a free agent. The Associated Press later confirmed those reports.
“After talking with coach Reeve and the Minnesota staff, I know this is where I’m going to take my game to the next level,” McBride told Slam. “I know a lot of people are counting me out or doubting me… And I cannot F’n wait.”
McBride will get an opportunity to get right into the mix of things with the Lynx starting rotation beginning in 2021, likely starting alongside Crystal Dangerfield, Napheesa Collier, Damiris Dantas and Sylvia Fowles. The addition of McBride will also help in the depth Minnesota has at the guard spot, with Odyssey Sims now moving to the second unit after starting in 2019 and for more than half of the 2020 season.
McBride, who will turn 29 years old in June, completed her seventh year in the WNBA in 2020 while averaging a career-low 12.5 points, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 26.7 minutes per game. The former No. 3 overall draft pick has spent the entirety of her professional career with the San Antonio Stars/Las Vegas Aces organization spanning from 2014-20, tallying career averages of 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 195 contests.
After seeing her playing time and role steadily decline over the last few years in Las Vegas, McBride will join the Lynx in 2021 with the determination to return to All-Star form while giving Minnesota a big-name free agent addition early on in the offseason.
HOW MCBRIDE WILL HELP THE LYNX
The biggest thing McBride will provide the Lynx with once she takes the floor is a much-needed boost on offense. For the last few years, Minnesota has searched for a consistent offensive threat to go alongside Collier and Fowles leading that charge, and McBride could fill that role nicely.
McBride has shown the ability to hurt opposing teams from any area on the court throughout her career. She holds career shooting marks of 40.6% from the field in her seven seasons, 36.7% from three and 89.5% from the free throw line.
She’s a threat to score anywhere on the floor and pair well with Collier, who holds similar offensive capabilities, while also countering Fowles’ post presence nicely. McBride gives the Lynx three legitimate threats on the offensive end of the floor, which will be fun to watch throughout the upcoming season.
One of the needs for Minnesota going into the offseason was finding an offensive playmaker at the guard position and on the perimeter. With McBride, the Lynx are getting just that.
CAN MINNESOTA MAKE MORE MOVES?
Right after Minnesota’s season ended in the bubble in 2020, Reeve spoke publicly about the fact the Lynx would have flexibility to go out and sign a big-name free agent this offseason or at the very least bring in an addition to the team in the new year.
Entering free agency, Minnesota had 10 players on the roster with just under $393,500 available in salary cap space, according to Her Hoops Stats’ salary database. Since teams are allowed a maximum of 12 players on a regular season roster, the Lynx had two open spots available going into the offseason. With a max contract set at $190K for the 2021 campaign, that also meant Minnesota had the ability to add one or two max players this offseason as well.
McBride will likely get a max contract, but Minnesota would now have one more roster spot open with about $200K available in cap space. However, they could still trade away some pieces before the regular season commences.
In other words, Minnesota could still make some moves this offseason even with the addition of McBride. Some additional options could be scanning the trade market – perhaps packaging draft picks and players in a deal – or reserving that roughly $200K for if or when either Cecilia Zandalasini or Maya Moore decide they would like to return in 2021.
Just a few days before players can officially sign with teams and put pen to paper on new contracts, the Lynx have started to make some noise in adding to an already up-and-coming team with the free agent signing of McBride. As Minnesota tries to build off of a strong performance in 2020 when the summer schedule begins, it could continue to make moves before hitting the court for the season opener.