The 2021 New York Liberty is marked by being the team with the lowest winning percentage in the playoffs. Having said that, they had eventual runner-up Phoenix Mercury fighting for their money in the first round. Their record should probably be better. If they live up to their potential all season, they’ll make the playoffs more comfortable.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Liberty has a new head coach in Sandy Brandro and expectations are even higher.
Free Agents (Type) (2021 Average Salary)
- Rebecca Allen (unlimited) ($105,037)
- Reshanda Gray (unlimited) ($34,651)
- Paris Kea (reserved)
- Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (reserved)
Total average free agent salary: $139,688
Total Team Salary: $1,338,063
Cap space: $937
The Liberty has a big three that could attract more talent this offseason. Players who want to win and have a good team and turn it into a super team can look to New York.
Having said that, Liz Cambage, Tina Charles and Jewell Loyd seem to be the potential super players with the least ties to the current team. Even if they have a good chance of staying put, we’ll use them to assume.
You could have Loyd at the 2, Betnijah Laney at the 3, Natasha Howard at the 4, and Kylee Shook as your starting center. You can even get smaller than that because Michaela Onyen came in to play the 4 and Howard moved to the 5 without a true center in the starting lineup.
But when you look at Liberty, what are they really missing? A big influencer. Last year it was Reshanda Gray and Shook, not stars either. You have star point guard (Sabrina Ionescu), shooting guard (Laney) and small forward (Howard). To make this team a super team, you need a super power forward or center in your starting lineup.
Considering New York is her hometown and she was better than Cambage last year, this is where Charles is perfect. I excluded Charles from the fever because she wanted to be in the contenders. Unfortunately, I also seem to have to exclude her from the Liberty, as she probably doesn’t want to risk returning to a team she’s seen her lose in championship pursuits many times. There will be new players now, but Charles may be tired of trying the Liberty.
That means Cambage will be a home run for the Liberty. You kept Asia Durr and Michaela Onyenwere, but dropped Jazmine Jones, Leaonna Odom, Jocelyn Willoughby and DiDi Richards because you had a lot of 2s and 3s. You keep Shook as Cambage’s backup and keep Gray unless you think Astou Ndour-Fall, Theresa Plaisance, or Kiah Stokes are upgrades and can get one of those for about $100,000 in free agency. You could also get North Carolina center Elissa at No. 5, but if you think you have enough frontcourt depth, a backup point guard like Destanni Henderson (South Carolina) would also be tempting.
Still, does this give you the best team you can put together? Your four best players are Cambage, Howard, Laney and Ionescu. But here is another case:
You replace Myisha Hines-Allen for $150,000 and Mercedes Russell for $120,000 with Cambage and a $100,000 player, and keep Richards, who can play point guard, for $62,774. You still keep Shook and Cunane in the draft. You can have Hines Allen at the 4, Russell at center, and Cunane and Shook grow as backups. Hines-Allen and Russell are hard to come by at these prices, so it’s a best-case scenario.
Regardless of the option chosen, it’s important for the Liberty to acquire high-end frontcourt talent and depth.
Hines Allen will bring more 3-point shooting and guard-like skills, which makes her more interesting. Plaisance also brings the 3-pointer element and bounces back in 2021.
* All salary figures are from HerHoopStats