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Liberty trade Tina Charles to Mystics, get 2020 draft picks from Wings in 3-team deal

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·5 min read
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The New York Liberty, who are almost guaranteed to select Oregon sensation Sabrina Ionescu in Friday’s draft, have traded former MVP Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics in a three-team deal with the Dallas Wings, Howard Megdal of High Post Hoops first reported.

The teams announced the deal Wednesday morning.

The trade completely shakes up the 2020 draft, which was dominated by the number of picks the Wings had in the first round and early in the second. Now the Liberty have that control with room to add pieces around their newest star.

Liberty, Mystics, Wings trade shakes up 2020 draft

New York Liberty center Tina Charles shoots a free throw during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in White Plains, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Liberty center Tina Charles shoots a free throw during the first half of a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in White Plains, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Liberty tried to give Charles, a 6-foot-4 center, the core designation in free agency but she declined. They are in overall rebuilding mode.

The reigning champion Mystics are sending Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to New York as well as the 12th pick in the WNBA draft, which is Friday on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

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New York will also get the ninth and 15th picks from the Wings, which had four picks in the top nine, per a report by Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press. And the team will get Tayler Hill from Dallas and the Mystics’ second- and third-round picks for 2021.

The Wings get the Mystics’ first-round pick in 2021 and the Liberty’s second-round pick in 2021.

Mystics get Charles, Liberty all-time leading scorer

Charles was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft by the Connecticut Sun and won league MVP in 2012. She’s the Liberty’s all-time leading scorer in six seasons and a seven-time WNBA All-Star but is still looking for her first championship. She has said she wanted to win it with the Liberty — she’s a native of Jamaica, New York — but it increasingly became unlikely.

Charles will be reunited with head coach Mike Thibault, who led the Sun for her first four years in the league. Thibault said in a statement, via the Mystics:

“Her ability to score inside and out will make our offense even more dangerous than in the past. Her willingness to share the ball will make it tough for opponents to double team her or Elena (Delle Donne) or Emma (Meesseman) or any of our other scorers. She is one of the best rebounders in the history of the league and that is an area that we have been looking to improve going into the upcoming season. I also think her competitive fire will be appreciated by her new teammates and she will in turn thrive in our environment. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach Tina again.”

The 10-year veteran was offered a core designation, but did not sign it. Per the AP, the Liberty signed her before the trade so she could earn an extra $30,000 and made the potential max of $215,000 under the new collective bargaining agreement. The deal is reportedly one year for $175,000, per Gabe Ibrahim of Winsidr.

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She averages 18.1 points and 9.5 rebounds over her career.

“Tina Charles is a name that will forever be synonymous with New York basketball,” Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. “Over the past six seasons, Tina has cemented herself not only in the Liberty record books, but in the hearts of New Yorkers everywhere due to her tireless and selfless work in the community. On behalf of the New York Liberty organization I thank Tina and wish her well in Washington.”

The Mystics were already loaded going into the draft, led by two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne and Finals MVP Emma Meesseman. Point guard Kristi Toliver left for the Los Angeles Sparks, but the group got two-time Most Improved Player of the Year Leilani Mitchell.

Liberty become team to watch in 2020 draft

The Liberty came into the day with a pick in each round. They now have five picks in the top 15 and six overall, the most in franchise history to go along with their first overall No. 1 pick. The Liberty have picks 1, 9, 12, 13, 15 and 26.

That gives them the ability to add significant pieces around Ionescu to compete for a championship in the coming years. There’s also the chance to reunite Oregon stars Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard, who is projected to go deeper in the second round.

Hebard and Ionescu are arguably the best pick-and-roll duo in the college game. Hebard is projected by ESPN to go at No. 11 to the Storm and Ionescu said on Tuesday she doesn’t expect her to even get that far.

Meanwhile, the Wings have fixed their roster overload issue by sending off some draft picks. They had five of the first 15 picks but already had a roster over the maximum 15 limit. That drops to 12 for the regular season.

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