Five things to know about WNBA training camp
The WNBA's 15th season begins in a just a few weeks, and the league's teams are gathering in their respective cities for the start of training camp. With 11 roster spots per team, the choices get more difficult every season, particularly this year with such a big infusion of young talent after the WNBA draft.
So keep an eye on the transaction wire at wnba.com and in the meantime, let's throw out a few questions whose answers will become clear between now and opening night.
1. Will Marion Jones stick on the Tulsa Shock's roster?
With the addition of talented youngsters like Liz Cambage (whose arrival is delayed until Wednesday due to visa issues) and Kayla Pedersen -- as well as the free agent signings of Sheryl Swoopes and Betty Lennox -- is there still room for the former Olympian on the Shock roster? She hung on to her spot last season at the end of the bench (averaging 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds) as Tulsa essentially operated as an expansion team. The Shock signed her to a multi-year extension in February. But she's 35 years old and has only one WNBA season under her belt. Her value to the team as a perimeter defender and subject of media interest might have to give way to young talent.
2. Is Sparks' camp the beginning of Tina Thompson's final season?
The WNBA's all-time leading scorer wasn't sure she'd be back in Los Angeles for a 15th season. The league's only remaining original player has to be happy to be playing alongside Candace Parker, who is back after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury. When Parker was gone, Thompson, 36, was the Sparks leading scorer last season. The Sparks still have Delisha Milton-Jones and have added Jantel Lavender through the draft to take some of the burden off Thompson in what might be her final WNBA season.
3. How many veterans could get cut by opening day?Should we consider Sheryl Swoopes, who signed a camp contract with Tulsa, a veteran? She has been out of the league for three years, and that is going to make things tough for the WNBA legend. The arrival of young talent and their minimal WNBA salaries make it a double-whammy for experienced players who command a bigger paycheck, particularly those who wouldn't necessarily be considered "stars." There may be a large number of veterans cut at the end of camp. Changes have already begun with the retirement of Nicole Ohlde and Minnesota cutting nine-year veteran Hamchetou Maiga-Ba.
4. Which of the young stars taken in the draft will be the first players to get cut from a roster?
On first glance, it would appear that Texas A&M's Danielle Adams could have a tough time sticking in San Antonio. Despite her considerable offensive skills, she is undersized for a WNBA post and may not move well enough to play in the league -- at least not this year.
5. Who will benefit most from return of veterans from overseas in time for camp?
Indiana would seem to be the top candidate. The Fever were missing four starters on opening day last year, and a slow start to the season (2-3 to open the schedule) might have kept the Fever from another title run.