With free agency underway in the WNBA, the Minnesota Lynx wasted no time in dipping into free agency to add to the team ahead of the 2022 season. With free-agent contracts able to officially be signed and finalized on Tuesday, Minnesota announced on Wednesday it is bringing in a veteran All-Star wing to the team.
After a reported agreement was announced last week, the Lynx have signed five-time All-Star Angel McCoughtry as a free agent. McCoughtry, who will turn 36 years old in September, will be entering her 11th season in the WNBA after spending 10 seasons with the Atlanta Dream and 2020 with the Las Vegas Aces.
“This is another exciting day for our franchise,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said Thursday while introducing McCoughtry. “I’m thrilled in her belief in us and thrilled to give Sylvia Fowles another all-time great as we compete for a fifth championship.”
The connection between McCoughtry and Minnesota began when she attended and sat courtside at a Minnesota Timberwolves game with Lynx forward Napheesa Collier on Jan. 16. Collier, who appears to be close with the veteran All-Star, could have been making an attempt to recruit McCoughtry to Minnesota to fill in for her. Collier who will miss most if not all of the 2022 season due to her pregnancy and the impending birth of her first child in May.
Whatever occurred this offseason between McCoughtry and the Lynx, the veteran wing will be joining the team for at least the upcoming season to help the team try and make another playoff run. With her addition, let’s look back at where McCoughtry is in her career, her ties to the Lynx and Reeve, and where she fits into the rotation in Minnesota.
“I’m very excited to be here,” McCoughtry said. “I’m just grateful that Cheryl sees that I have a lot of competitiveness in me. I’m grateful to be a part of the community in Minnesota. … They have the best fan base. To now be on that side, it’s a great feeling.”
Veteran Coming Off Of Injury
In 2022, McCoughtry will be playing in her 11th season after playing in Atlanta from 2009-19 and Las Vegas in 2020. In 2021, McCoughtry suffered an ACL and meniscus tear which sidelined her for the entire year in what would have been her second with the Aces.
“Everything is going well. I’ve been playing some pickup and I’m feeling good,” McCoughtry said of her injury rehab process. “Do I think I am going to get better? Yeah. But it’s going to get there. … I’m ahead of things and I’ve been working really hard.”
If McCoughtry is able to get back to full strength, she could be a nice addition to the Lynx rotation that is going to be without the likes of Collier this summer. After all, we are talking about a five-time All-Star and Olympian who ranks among the all-time WNBA greats in multiple statistical categories.
In her 10 seasons in the league, the former first overall pick has averaged 18.7 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in a total of 309 games. She also holds career shooting marks of 43 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three. On the WNBA’s all-time leaderboard, McCoughtry ranks eight in league history in points (5,785) and field goals made (2,015), also ranking second in free throws attempted (1,879).
“Just put her on the floor, whatever position you want to call her. Angel will be on the floor,” Reeve said of McCoughtry. “I want that same (competitive drive to win) every time Angel is on the floor.”
In her most recent season of 2020 in the bubble in Florida, McCoughtry finished her lone season with Las Vegas averaging 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 20 minutes (22 games). The Aces ended up reaching the WNBA Finals that season, her fourth appearance in the championship series, falling to the Seattle Storm 3-0.
McCoughtry has put together an impressive and Hall of Fame-worthy career leading into 2022, but now it’s just a matter of if she is able to get back to full strength to be able to help the third team of her WNBA career in Minnesota.
“After my first injury, I didn’t do things to maintain,” McCoughtry said of her injury history. “You realize you have to do things after injury to maintain yourself. I think that’s the difference now. … I’m motivated, my body is rested, and I’m just ready to go.”
History With Minnesota, Cheryl Reeve
Over the course of her career, McCoughtry has had some historic and intense battles with the Lynx, both in the regular season and the playoffs. She has faced off against Minnesota a total of 28 times in both the regular season and postseason, holding a record of 8-20 against the Lynx. In her career, she holds averages of 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 steals in roughly 27 minutes against Minnesota.
When it comes to some of the more intense matchups with the Lynx, McCoughtry went up against them in the 2011 and 2013 WNBA Finals with Atlanta, both championship series which saw Minnesota pull away with its first two league titles.
“I want to be the nightmare for others that (the Lynx) were for me earlier in my career,” McCoughtry said. “You were actually kind of scared to play Minnesota.
“The history (of the organization) speaks for itself and it’s still living on today. … They understand what it takes to be a champion. … I haven’t completed the task (of winning a title), but they have done that. I think we have a good chance to get back.”
McCoughtry also has a connection with Reeve, with both being a part of the USA Women’s Basketball National Team. Reeve, an assistant coach at the time, and McCoughtry were together on the national team during the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2014 FIBA World Cup, both of which saw Team USA come away with gold medals.
McCoughtry is familiar with the Lynx, and they are certainly familiar with her as well. Meaning this pair could work out well together if she returns healthy and back to the form of what we saw from the veteran wing before her injury in 2021.
“(Angel) would be a part of any plan to be successful,” Reeve said. “Playing against Angel, I remember having to scheme for Angel. It wasn’t fun.”
How McCoughtry Fits in Minnesota
As mentioned, if McCoughtry is healthy, she could certainly help fill some holes in Minnesota’s rotation this summer. She fits the Reeve mold when it comes to a style of player — a veteran player who can rebound, defend well, and can counter those characteristics with an ability to score anywhere on the floor on offense.
First, it will be interesting to find out the Lynx will be able to make McCoughtry’s contract work given the situation Minnesota is in with its salary cap. The Lynx entered February with $432,198 available under the WNBA’s cap, according to Her Hoop Stats. Reeve noted during McCoughtry’s introductory press conference that Sylvia Fowles, who was eligible for a supermax contract near $228,094, is willing to wait out the offseason to allow Minnesota as much flexibility to continue to add to the team before figuring out her contract.
If Fowles did sign for the supermax, with the Lynx also reportedly re-signing Layshia Clarendon likely around the $100,000 range and McCoughtry reportedly signing with Minnesota on a 1-year, $130,000 contract, that would put the Lynx over the salary cap limit. But Reeve and Co. will now have to work to make all of the numbers and salaries work.
When it comes to McCoughtry’s actual fit on the team, she would fit right in with what Reeve and Co. do on both sides of the floor. A defensive-minded player who also has the ability to turn that into offense is exactly what Minnesota focuses on with this group of players. And without Collier in the rotation, McCoughtry could somewhat resemble her style of play although the veteran might end up primarily coming off the bench rather than starting.
“I think I fit in really well here in Minnesota. … Just looking at all the pieces, I’m like ‘I can fit right in,'” McCoughtry said. “I’m going to go hard on every play.”
With the free agency signing period now finally here, the Lynx have begun officially signing contracts and announcing additions to the team in preparation for the 2022 campaign. And one new face that will join the team this summer is McCoughtry, bringing in another veteran and All-Star player to Minnesota.
“I’m hungry. I had to sit out a year (in 2021) again. The hunger is there, but it’s also Sylvia Fowles’ last year,” McCoughtry said. “You have to think about it in that sense, so it’s about how can you help Sylvia.”