The 2021 season ended disappointingly for the Aces. They fell short of their championship aspiration and failed even to reach the WNBA Finals. This result was unacceptable for a team stacked with Liz Cambage, Kelsey Plum, Dearica Hamby, and A’ja Wilson. So, the Aces went out and made a change. Enter Becky Hammon. The Aces signed her as their next head coach, replacing Bill Laimbeer. This was a shock and a message to everyone in the WNBA that the Aces were shaking things up and unsatisfied with last year’s results. With that in mind, what changes will take place with the roster? What changes are even possible?
By the numbers*
Free agents (type) (2021 average salary)
- Liz Cambage (unrestricted) $221,450
- Angel McCoughtry (unrestricted) 190,550
- Kiah Strokes (unrestricted) $32,200
- Riquna Williams (unrestricted) $91,250
- A’ja Wilson (restricted) $70,040
- JiSu Park (reserved) $58,710
Total average salary of free agents : $664,200
Total team salary: $654,232
Cap space: $724,968
The good news is the Aces have all their options available to them. They have enough money to just run it back and see if adding a new coach will be enough to take an already great team and push it to the next level. However, that is unlikely to happen. A new coach usually means massive changes, and with so many free agents unrestricted, who knows what the market for these players will be and if some of them even want to come back.
The two most impactful players up in the air are Liz Cambage and A’ja Wilson. To me, one of those decisions is more challenging than the other. You have to bring A’ja back. She’s so young and so talented — it’d be foolish to let her walk away. Cambage is a bit tougher. You have to ask if she can fit on the team and who knows if she even wants to be in Las Vegas. It was clear she originally wanted to be with the LA Sparks and given the scrutiny and disappointing end to the 2021 season, maybe she’s done with the Aces.
The other big factor in free agency this season is Becky Hammon. What kind of players will she want on this team? What type of system will she run? How will that force the roster to change? We will find the answers to these answers as free agency kicks off and we see the moves the Aces begin to make.
One thing is for sure: Las Vegas is never boring. An already great team making this coaching change is risky. However, it’s clear the Aces want a championship and felt they needed to make a coaching change to get the job done. We’ll see what moves the Aces make in free agency and if they can get over the hump and win their first WNBA title in 2022.
* All salary numbers come from HerHoopStats