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Liberty announce roster moves.

The past two weeks have seen the New York Liberty as the most active team in the WNBA.

Two days before the 2020 draft, the Liberty made a major trade, sending longtime Liberty player and seven time All-star, Tina Charles, to the Washington Mystics. In return, the Liberty received a handful of draft picks for 2020 and 2021. In addition, New York received guards Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from Washington, and Tayler Hill from the Dallas Wings.

On draft day, the Liberty were involved in two trades. The first was sent Walker-Kimbrough to the Phoenix Mercury for Jocelyn Willoughby, the #10 pick overall pick. The second sent the Liberty’s third-round pick, Erica Ogwumike, to the Minnesota Lynx for veteran, Stephanie Talbot.

These moves, along with their five new draft picks, set their roster at 18 players.

Originally, training camps were set to begin this past Sunday, April 26. With the coronavirus pandemic still peaking, the League decided in early April to postpone training camps, as well as the start of their regular season(set to begin on May 15), until further notice.

WNBA training camp rosters can only have a maximum of 15 players. With the delay, there doesn’t seem to be a need to trim rosters immediately. However, the Liberty aren’t wasting any time to get to that number.

On Tuesday, April 21, the Liberty announced that they waived five-year guard, Brittany Boyd. In a statement from the team, General Manager, Jonathan Kolb, said “Brittany has been a valuable member of the Liberty for the past five seasons. However, we are going in a different direction at her position and wanted to give her ample time to pursue other opportunities across the league. We wish her nothing but the best.”

The cut of Boyd was clear, with the team now focusing on their #1 pick, Sabrina Ionescu, at point guard. Their addition of Layshia Clarendon during free agency was another sign that Boyd’s tenure with the Liberty would likely be coming to an end. Re-signing French combo-guard Marine Johannes to a two-year deal and drafting Louisville guard Jazmine Jones(#12 overall) left no room on the roster for Boyd. Boyd was the Liberty’s 9th overall pick in 2015. Boyd’s best season was in 2018, where she averaged 6.4 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

The Liberty’s next pair of moves came on Tuesday, April 28.

The team announced that recently acquired guard, Tayler Hill, would be waived.

Hill was a seven-year veteran having played five seasons with the Mystics and her last two with the Dallas Wings. Hill’s contract is guaranteed, meaning she’ll still receive a salary for 2020. The Liberty have ample cap space to pay her salary, unless another team picks-up Hill off of waivers. The move was expected, as Hill didn’t play at all in 2019 and only 20 games in 2018. Hill suffered an ACL tear in the 2017 season with Washington. She never returned to top playing form. Hill’s best season was in 2016, as the Mystics’ starting shooting guard. She averaged career-highs of 15.4 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game.

The Liberty also announced that recently acquired forward, Stephanie Talbot, would sit out the 2020 season and remain home in Australia. This allows the Liberty to retain Talbot’s rights if she were to decide to play in 2021. Talbot averaged 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in 2019 with the Lynx.

The Liberty have shrunk their roster to meet 15 player requirement. Releasing Boyd and Hill early, paired with the delay in starting camps, gives both players a large enough window to get picked up by another team.

The Liberty’s current depth chart is looking solid. Only three more cuts would need to be made to get their roster down to twelve.

PG: Ionescu/Clarendon

SG: Durr/Johannes/Jones

SF: Nurse/Walker/Willoughby

PF: Allen/Gray/Shook/Odom

C: Zahui B/Stokes/Han

The assumption that China’s Han Xu, as well as France’s Johannes, will come over seems more likely now. Walt Hopkins’ new system of playing “small ball” or “Walt-ball” will give him a lot flexibility. Having players like Rebecca Allen, Meghan Walker, and Leaonna Odom as flex 3/4 types while being able to use almost all of his guards in multiple positions enables Hopkins to run an uptempo, fast system. Only time will tell who the Liberty will cut next.

With sports on hold, for now, the Liberty wait.

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