By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor
WASHINGTON – The defending WNBA champions have gone all-in on their championship window after trading Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, and their 12th draft pick to acquire Tina Charles from the New York Liberty in a three-team trade that involved the Dallas Wings.
In her five seasons in New York, Turner cemented herself as an all-time great, becoming its all-time leading scorer last season. The only thing missing on Charles’ resume is a championship.
After missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, Charles declined to sign her core designation option. Going into her 10th season and at 31 years of age, Charles isn’t interested in being apart of a rebuilding project with the Liberty.
“Tina’s in a position where she wants to compete for a championship sooner than later as an older player,” Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “It’s been a couple of weeks in the making. [The Liberty] clearly were motivated to get it done before the draft so that the draft picks would play a factor for them this week.”
According to NBCSports, the former MVP was granted permission to talk with the Mystics during the offseason to negotiate a trade to play for Washington.
With the Mystics, Charles has a chance to reunite with her former coach. The two achieved some success during their time together with the Connecticut Sun, namely during 2012, when Charles won MVP and led the Liberty on a deep playoff run before losing in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion Indiana Fever.
“Tina Charles is a name that will forever be synonymous with New York basketball,” said Liberty GM 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.”
That was their last season together after the front office fired Thibault after a 10-year tenure that included two runs to the Finals. Thibault quickly got back on his feet and found immediate success with the Mystics, making back-to-back finals appearances and finally getting over the hump while ripping the monkey off his back, beating the Sun for their first title in 2019.
The addition of Turner will help to offset the losses of Walker-Kimbrough and Kristi Toliver, who signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Sparks. Toliver is the only player to leave the team after unrestricted free agents Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman resigned for four years and for an undisclosed amount, respectively.
Although her role is undefined, Turner joins a historic Mystics team that went a league-best 26-8 and reset the record books after finishing with the highest offensive rating in league history at 112.9. Delle Donne joined the exclusive 50-40-90 club last season on her way to her second MVP after averaging 19.5 points, grabbing 8.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.