Chicago Sky finally able to grant Fowles' wish
Count me in as one of the doubters that a trade of Sylvia Fowles to Minnesota would ever happen. At least not this summer.
A few months ago, Fowles, the Chicago Sky's Olympic and all-star center, demanded to be traded just before the start of what would have been her eighth season here. Her wish was to be traded to only one team, the Minnesota Lynx, and she said that she would sit out the season until such a trade could be arranged.
Minnesota, a perennial WNBA power, has plenty of talent on par with Fowles, namely Olympians Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen.
But those three heavyweights are beloved in Minnesota, not just by management but by fans. I didn't see the Lynx parting with any of them for Fowles. And I didn't see the Sky taking anything less in return.
Thus, a season-long impasse was to be expected. I figured we wouldn't see Fowles in a WNBA uniform all summer.
And yet, somehow, Fowles is now headed to Minnesota. She might already be there.
A surprising trade happened in the WNBA late Sunday night that gave the Lynx yet another Olympian. But it also gave the Sky exactly what it needed for a fair exchange, and for a run at a WNBA title this summer.
"Sylvia gets to go where she wanted to go, and that's good for her," Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said of Fowles. "And we get a player we've always really admired. All in all, I like it."
It took another team to get involved, though. In a three-way trade, Minnesota got Fowles and a 2016 second-round draft pick from Chicago, while the Atlanta Dream got forwards Damiris Dantas and Reshanda Gray and a 2016 first-round pick from Minnesota.
Atlanta is sending 6-foot-5 center Erika de Souza to the Sky, which waived reserve center Sasha Goodlett to make room.
I like this trade for the Sky, which certainly managed to make lemonade out of a mountain of lemons.
No one associated with the Sky wanted to see Fowles go. She's one of the best bigs in the world. But she wanted a change of scenery and there was no convincing her otherwise.
To end up with a player like de Souza while being in such an unfortunate predicament is a rather astonishing coup for the Sky.
An Olympian herself for Brazil, de Souza is in her 10th WNBA season. She's a three-time WNBA all-star, the Dream's all-time leading rebounder and a player who can go toe to toe with any big in the league, including Fowles.
Although her numbers aren't eye-popping this year (8.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg), de Souza is a force that commands defensive attention inside. More important, she can be the defensive stopper in the paint the Sky has so desperately needed this season.
On top of that, de Souza has championship experience. She helped Atlanta get to the WNBA Finals three times in the last five years.
"We've known for a while now what we've been missing and we are so excited to have Erika because I know what she can do having gone against her all these years," Chatman told me Monday afternoon. "I slept about 90 minutes last night after we got this (trade) done. I was so excited."
Apparently, so was de Souza, who is trying to get out to Phoenix in time to be ready for Tuesday's game against the Mercury. If that doesn't happen, she certainly will be all set to debut Friday at home against the Los Angeles Sparks.
"It was so nice because (de Souza) texted me and was like, 'I'm excited. Thanks so much for trusting in my work,' and I was like, 'Umm. Of course,' " Chatman said with a laugh. "You know, we've always really liked Erika as a player. Atlanta is a team that likes to push the ball and so are we.
"I love the way Erika runs the floor as a big player and fits right in with that style. She can rebound, she can defend 1-on-1 and protect the rim, she's an underrated passer out of the post, and she's good at getting open and creating space for herself. She's a presence in the post.
"She can do a lot of things. I'm excited to start the second half (of the season). Erika will add a lot for us."
Chatman envisions using de Souza in multiple lineups, some in which she is the only big, others in which she teams up with surprising rookie center Clarissa Dos Santos, also a Brazilian.
"Erika is a pro's pro," Chatman said. "She's been playing basketball at a high level in Brazil since she was a teenager. She's going to fit in wherever we put her, and she's going to get quality minutes. She gives us a lot of versatility."
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