Sylvia Fowles only wanted to play for one team this season — the Minnesota Lynx. The Chicago Sky finally were able to make it happen.
After sitting out the first half of the year, Fowles was traded to the Lynx on Monday as part of a three-team deal.
“Words can’t describe how excited I am to be a part of the Minnesota Lynx family,” Fowles wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “I’m also a bit nervous, like the first day of school. They have a very strong culture and I am anxious to join the team and start contributing.”
The star center will be reunited with Olympic teammates Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus — who also played with Fowles at LSU. That gives Minnesota (12-4), which is already in first in the Western Conference, an unmatched quartet of Olympians.
“It would be a disappointment to have that many Olympians and not win a championship,” Augustus said. “But one day at a time. It’s almost like we’re starting over. It’s like training camp again with the new additions we have. She’ll get a nice workout in tomorrow and then Wednesday it’s go time.”
Fowles said in May that she just was looking for a change of scenery when asked why she was willing to leave Chicago, which made the WNBA Finals last season for the first time in franchise history.
“In my conversation with her, I think there were three reasons, Lindsay, Seimone and Maya,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “People want to play with that group.”
The Sky acquired Erika De Souza from Atlanta and also gave the Lynx their second-round pick in next year’s draft. The Dream received Damiris Dantas, Reshanda Gray and Minnesota’s first-round pick next season. It’s arguably one of the biggest trades in the middle of the season in league history.
Fowles said she has been staying in shape and spent time working on the bike while relaxing.
“It will take time to adjust to game speed and learn the system, but I’m committed to doing whatever I have to to contribute as quickly as possible,” she said.
The two-time Olympian is averaging 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 blocks for her career. She also provides another scoring option for the Lynx, who are without Augustus most likely until mid-August with a knee injury. Whalen hurt her eye last week, ending her streak of 106 straight starts. Both players missed the All-Star Game on Saturday, but Whalen said she’ll play Wednesday when the Lynx host the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Lynx traded injured guard Monica Wright to the Seattle Storm last week for Renee Montgomery.
Chicago (11-6) has gotten along fine without Fowles, sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference. De Souza, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is averaging 8.6 points and 7.5 rebounds this year for the Dream. The Brazilian center spent her last eight years in Atlanta.
“Erika’s a player that I liked her since I played against her when she was in Spain,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said. “Erika’s been in the system that’s fast paced, lots of transition so she’ll fit in well with us. “
Chatman said that trade talks had been ongoing for a few weeks and finally everything came together for the three-team trade. She wasn’t sure if De Souza would be in Phoenix for the Sky’s game against the Mercury on Tuesday night.
“We’re working on that, don’t know for sure yet,” she said.
Atlanta (7-10) is last in the Eastern Conference but only five games out of first. In acquiring Gray, it gets a player who was selected 16th in the April draft.
“Reshanda Gray is a very good young player in this league,” Dream coach Michael Cooper said. “She is a tough player who competes on the boards at both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.”