Now that Pokey Chatman has signed on the dotted line herself, she’s got to get some other key people around her to do the same thing.
The Chicago Sky head coach agreed to a multiyear extension with the team on Tuesday and is now trying to piece together her roster for the upcoming season, her third with the team.
Chatman has plenty of supporters among the Sky’s faithful.
They are the ones who believe it was a no-brainer to give her more time, especially in light of the Sky’s debilitating injury problems last season that claimed the services of its two best players, Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles, for nine games apiece.
But the doubters out there are just as vocal, and they are frustrated that the team missed the playoffs during Chatman’s first two years while also leading the WNBA in turnovers each season.
Chatman, also the Sky’s general manager, knows it’s crucial for her over the next couple of months to re-sign key pieces and add new ones that finally will put the Sky in the playoffs and in championship contention.
The Sky is entering is eighth season of existence and has missed the playoffs a WNBA-record seven consecutive times.
“I know the fans are passionate and they take (missing the playoffs) to heart,” said Chatman, who spends her offseasons in Russia coaching in the EuroLeague. “It upsets us, too. There’s a lot of raw emotion and frustration while you’re going through it.
“But when you step back after the fact, you could see that we did some good things last season, some positive things, and there were variables like injuries that didn’t help us.
“Despite the injuries, we still had our opportunities, and we squandered them. We didn’t get the job done. We’ve got to take ownership of that and make sure we fill the holes and put all the pieces in place that we need for this year.”
With veterans Fowles, Prince, Swin Cash and Ruth Riley locked in and Courtney Vandersloot, Carolyn Swords and Sonja Petrovic still serving out their rookie contracts, Chatman has turned her attention to restricted free agent Tamera Young, the Sky’s defensive stopper and a starter last season. Chatman can match any outside offers Young receives.
Meanwhile, veteran guard Ticha Penicheiro retired at the end of last season and unrestricted free agent forward Le’Coe Willingham has since signed with the Atlanta Dream.
Depending on what Chatman does with reserve forward Shay Murphy, the Sky could have two to three open roster spots to work with.
Some of the more intriguing unrestricted free agents out there are Iziane Castro Marques, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and DeLisha Milton-Jones.
Restricted free agents of note who have not yet re-signed are DeWanna Bonner, Essence Carson, Marissa Coleman, Kia Vaughn and Candice Wiggins.
Of course, one of those open spots will be reserved for the Sky’s No. 2 pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.
After the Phoenix Mercury takes Baylor center Brittney Griner with the No. 1 pick, the top players available to the Sky will be Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins and Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne.
“I’m excited because we have some really good options,” Chatman said. “Our biggest thing is that we have to be playoff bound this year. That’s all there is to it.
“It’s like, we’ve just got to do it and that’s it, and we’ve got to put together the players that will help us do that.”
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