Sky coach and general manager James Wade has been moving chairs on his team since the season started, adjusting to injuries and players’ national team duties.
The latest move was the trade of his eighth overall pick, Shyla Heal, plus draft assets to the Dallas Wings in exchange for Dana Evans.
Heal was then immediately waived by the Wings.
“This was not the team we wanted her to play with,” Wade said.
The Sky sent Heal plus their 2022 third-round pick to the Wings. As part of the trade, the Wings have the right to swap first-round picks with the Sky if the Sky have a higher pick.
A question that feels almost too obvious to ask is why didn’t Wade just draft Evans with the eighth overall pick to begin with?
This is where salary-cap issues and Sky injuries come into play. Wade drafted Heal with the intention of her playing behind Courtney Vandersloot and alongside Allie Quigley. He expected to have time to develop her into the kind of guard who could be a backup to Vandersloot. Because of injury, Heal was no longer afforded the chance to develop with the Sky.
“We want to win now,” Wade said.
The Sky need an experienced guard with Quigley still recovering from a hamstring injury and Candace Parker out with an ankle injury. Due to the Sky’s cap space, they couldn’t afford to keep Heal and sign a veteran guard. Evans’ second-round rookie contract gives the Sky more cap space to work with.
Wade signed Lexie Brown to a hardship contract ahead of the buzzer-beating loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. He was happy with her performance and said she was a big reason for the team’s lowest number of turnovers this season.
Brown was released by the team Wednesday evening but is expected to sign a rest-of-season contract on June 13.
In the meantime, the Sky are down to 10 active players, which goes against the league’s CBA. Wade has 72 hours to sign another player and said he’s looking for a post player.
Parker’s ankle injury was initially assessed as a moderate sprain but since then has been upgraded. She’s going through rehab multiple times a day and was able to bring the swelling down, but after working out, the swelling returned.
Wade sent Parker to Los Angeles so she could rehab with trainers.
The Sky also waived rookie Stephanie Watts on Wednesday. Wade said the decision came down to keeping Heal and Watts or trading for another rookie who would give them space to sign a veteran guard. Wade chose the latter.
In four games with the Sky, Heal averaged two points and 2.5 turnovers in 7.8 minutes of play. She won Australia’s WNBL’s Youth Player of the Year award in 2020 with averages of 25.3 points and 7.3 assists.
Watts played in six games for the Sky and averaged 2.5 points and 3.7 rebounds.
“We like Dana,” Wade said. “We think she has to learn how to be a pure point guard. But the thing is we needed Brown. This was a way for us to get her.”
Evans, the first pick of the second round (13th overall), played in six games for the Wings, averaging 0.8 points in four minutes.