This week's trade sending Seattle's Renee Montgomery (No. 21, White) to Minnesota in exchange for the ailing Monica Wright and a second-round draft pick offers immediate benefits for the Lynx but is a long-term gain for the Storm as well. (Photo by Neil Enns/Storm Photos)
This week's trade sending Seattle's Renee Montgomery (No. 21, White) to Minnesota in exchange for the ailing Monica Wright and a second-round draft pick offers immediate benefits for the Lynx but is a long-term gain for the Storm as well. (Photo by Neil Enns/Storm Photos)

Montgomery for Wright: What Seattle gets out of the deal

July 25, 2015 - 1:30pm

Montgomery deal a signal of ongoing rebuild in Seattle

SEATTLE -- This week's news that Seattle had shipped Renee Montgomery and a second-round pick to Minnesota for the injured Monica Wright caught many off guard.

Midseason trades in the WNBA are the exception, not the rule, and the swap between two sides heading in opposite directions had no clear short-term dividend for a Seattle side in the thick of the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Even with that postseason position likely destined for a team with a sizeable losing record, the move indicates that Seattle is still taking a long-term approach to roster construction.

Seattle initially acquired Montgomery in an off-season deal with Connecticut that sent Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen to the Sun for Montgomery and two draft picks, including the No. 3 selection the Storm used to nab Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

The 28-year-old Montgomery old had appeared in all 17 games for the Storm this season — coming off the bench in all but two — and was leading the team in 3-point shooting at 39 percent. The UConn alumna was averaging just over seven points and three assists in 18 minutes per night.

Rookie guard Jewell Loyd noted how beneficial Montgomery’s veteran presence was on a team filled with young players.

“She brought a lot of great energy to our team, she’s a great point guard, she can score, she sees the floor really well, and so for us being so young, I took a lot from that, just because you know you have to bring that every single night,” Loyd said.

In her stead, Seattle does not get an immediate contributor. Wright is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery on July 16, and no timetable was given for her return when the Lynx announced the news of her most recent injury earlier this month.

The 27-year-old San Antonio native and 2012 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year -- Wright finished second in the voting for the same honor in 2013 while with Minnesota -- had been a constant in the Lynx lineup for most of her first four seasons, appearing in 130 of a potential 136 games, typically coming first off the bench. However, knee surgery caused her to miss the first 10 games of the 2014 season, while a strained right calf kept her out of the first five games of 2015.

In her seven-game stint this season, Wright was averaging just two points, one assist, and one rebound in 11 minutes a night as she struggled to stay on the court.

A restricted free agent in 2014, Wright had been on Seattle’s radar for some time, with the Storm signing the San Antonio native to an offer sheet after the 2013 season, one that was quickly matched by the Lynx.

In a statement, Storm President and General Manager Alisha Valavanis called the move a “unique opportunity to bring in a player with great athleticism and significant championship experience.”

Indeed, with five full WNBA seasons under her belt, Wright becomes the third most-tenured player on the young Seattle roster, behind only guard Sue Bird and forward Crystal Langhorne. But that’s experience the team is likely banking on for 2016 — the final year of Wright's current three-year contract.

While unlikely to see much — if any — playing time in 2015, the 5-foot-10 guard would provide a decent backcourt scoring option for the team in 2016, after shooting over 40 percent from the field in each of the last three seasons.

Wright has even more notoriety as a defensive stopper and would provide size in the backcourt that Montgomery didn’t, provided she can stay healthy moving forward. Seattle also sees Wright as a player able to play at either guard spot, or at small forward, while Montgomery was slotted only in the one spot because of her size and defensive abilities.

With the move, Seattle is banking on the Wright that many viewed as a “sixth starter” on the 2013 Minnesota championship team, and if they get that kind of output from their new acquisition, the deal gives them predominantly a shooting guard to slot aside Loyd in the backcourt moving forward.

The move also signals confidence in the short-term in guard Angel Goodrich, who is likely to see significant minutes for the remainder of this year, her biggest role since starting 16 games as a rookie with Tulsa in 2013.

In Seattle’s first game without Montgomery on Tuesday night, Goodrich saw 19 minutes of action against the Liberty after previously averaging just over eight minutes a night.

The 5-foot-4 guard said she hated to see Montgomery go, for what she offered both on and off the court as a player and person.

“Renee was very smart on the court,” Goodrich said. “She made passes that I’ve seen, but I didn’t know how they got through, so just watching her move and seeing stuff that she’s seeing that I’d seen later, was awesome.”

However, the Kansas alumna sees the chance to play significant minutes as a big opportunity to show her mettle.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to kind of just step up in a new role; it’s exciting,” Goodrich said. "I’ve been waiting to play, I’ve been working hard, but I’ve just kind of been working on me, and for it to actually come out and get this opportunity, I’m excited, I’m thrilled, and I just want to do anything I can to help my team.”

Seattle head coach Jenny Boucek said after Tuesday's game that Goodrich played well in the backup role — with a team-high plus/minus of 11, a productivity all the more impressive considering the young guard was battling a GI bug going around the team.

“She runs our team very smoothly, seamlessly,” Boucek said. “She and Sue [Bird] look good together.”

Though Montgomery was only in Seattle for half a season, she leaves behind the knowledge she instilled in Loyd and Goodrich. Loyd said the flow of knowledge was certainly beneficial, not only to her, but to Montgomery as well.

“She’s going to do great in Minnesota,” Loyd said. “She’s taught us a lot and she’s learned a lot here, so it goes both ways.”