Miller, Sun have tough cuts to make
Curt Miller believed he had assembled a quality group of players to compete for the Connecticut Sun's final roster spots at training camp.
Miller, the Sun's head coach and general manager, will have to decide who stays and who goes without getting a chance to see those players go head-to-head in person.
WNBA teams have to cut their rosters down to 12 players by next Tuesday (May 26) so that players can start being paid on June 1. Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press was the first to report the story on Tuesday night, citing an anonymous source.
Miller confirmed the story on Wednesday.
"These are unprecedented times," Miller said. "There's no playbook for any of this for any team, so across the league, we're all going to be forced to make tough decisions before the deadline date."
The WNBA's regular season was scheduled to start last Friday (May 15th). The league postponed the start of the season in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sun have 15 players rostered but have few openings after going the full five games before losing to the Washington Mystics in last year's WNBA Finals.
Connecticut has three starters back — post Jonquel Jones, a 2019 All-WNBA second-team pick, Alyssa Thomas (forward) and point guard Jasmine Thomas. That trio has started the majority of games the past four seasons.
The Sun acquired three-time All-Star DeWanna Bonner, a forward-guard, from the Phoenix Mercury via a sign-and-trade in February. The two-time WNBA champion was one of the most coveted free agents.
Connecticut also acquired guard Briann January in February from Phoenix as a part of a three-way deal in which the Sun traded starting off-guard Courtney Williams to the Atlanta Dream becuse she wanted to be closer to home.
The Sun acquired former UConn standout Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis from the Seattle Storm in a February trade.
Guards Bria Holmes and Natisha Hiedeman and posts Brionna Jones and Theresa Plaisance were all Connecticut reserves last season.
The Sun drafted Kaila Charles (guard-forward) and Juicy Landrum (guard) in April. They also signed Jacki Gemelos (guard), Jazmon Gwathmey (guard), and Megan Huff (forward) to training camp contracts.
"We have tough decisions to make, but we'll have our roster cut down by the May 26 deadline," Miller said.
The league and the players' union are still working out many details of how often players will get paid and how much. Those negotiations largely depend on the length and start date of the season.
Players who are waived over the next week won't get paid, but they will receive benefits through June 30, the source told The AP. The WNBA offered rookies health benefits starting May 1. Veteran players receive year-round benefits.
Cutting down the rosters isn't a sign that the league is going to begin anytime soon. On May 15, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The AP the league is focusing on about a half-dozen scenarios to play this summer. The commissioner said it was important that the players got paid on June 1 — the date they were scheduled to start getting paid for the season before the pandemic hit.
Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press contributed to this story.