The signing period for WNBA players officially commenced on Feb. 1st, but the league website was significantly behind in tracking who renewed commitments with previous teams and who was looking to continue their careers elsewhere.
On Tuesday, the WNBA finally rectified their resource predicament, updating their player movement page to include 2013 transactions.
With a universal resource to track free agent developments in place again, fans will have fewer complications with roster information, including Wednesday’s pair of signings.
The Los Angeles Sparks laid out the first announcement, declaring a multi-year deal for guard Kristi Toliver. The centerpiece of the Sparks back-court, Toliver willingly accepted the team’s point guard assignment, doing more than enough to win the Most Improved Player award in 2012. Starting in 33 games last season, Toliver posted career-highs in points per game (17.5), assists per game (4.9) and steals per game (1.3)
For critics who want to bring up the caveat of numbers fluctuating in relation to playing time, Toliver also had a career-high in field goal percentage, hitting 49.1 percent of her shots.
For perspective, Toliver placed third in the league for total scoring in 2012, third in total assists, sixth in field goal shooting and second in free throw shooting.
“Los Angeles is about winning championships and I am determined to help bring another one back to this city. There is an expectation that lives here, and I’m honored to be part of that commitment,” she said.
Toliver’s agreement with Los Angeles was widely expected, and with a new deal in place, postulation can begin about the team’s renovated potency. With the acquisition of point guard Lindsey Harding, Toliver will likely spend most of her playing time at shooting guard again, where her scoring abilities could flourish to higher levels.
Such a move would also neutralize Toliver’s major weakness: ball control. Despite her career mark in assists, she led the league in turnovers with 3.6 per game. Toliver set a league record for most turnovers in a game last season, coughing up the ball 14 times against Tulsa on May 29.
The Indiana Fever played a more perplexing move, signing Laura Harper to a free agent deal.
Harper was drafted by the Sacramento Monarchs in 2008, playing for two seasons with the team before their dissolution at the end of 2009. The San Antonio Silver Stars picked her up in the dispersal draft, but injuries have sidelined her WNBA career since. She took part in training camp for the Washington Mystics last year, but was waived.
The 6-foot-5 center was formidable in her short stint with Sacramento. In her last full season, Harper had 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game, averaging nearly 14 minutes of floor time. She remains active overseas, currently playing for Dynamo Moscow in Russia.
The implications of Indiana’s transaction are open for interpretation. The breakout star of last year’s playoffs, Erlana Larkins, is reserved, effectively cementing her position with the Fever. Indiana’s other center from 2012, Tammy Sutton-Brown, is an unrestricted free agent, but few clues are available to suggest whether she stays or leaves.
Examining the numbers, Indiana may be seeking youth to stabilize their interior unit. Sutton-Brown turned 35 last month, and her production has steadily declined in her Fever years. Some attribution could be pointed to the talents of Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas and Briann January, but Sutton-Brown’s desirability may be in doubt with a career-low 3.9 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 42.2 field goal percentage in 2012.
Guaranteeing Harper’s place on the Fever roster is uncertain as well, which could replicate last year’s hole up front. The detriment was contained during their championship run, but remains a primary need as Indiana moves forward.