The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, January 23, 2019
Liz Cambage thoughts—Alana Beard reveals future plans—must-click women's basketball links
What Dallas lost last August
I remember vividly when I received a call from Lindsay “Tennis Tuesday” Gibbs, who was covering the Mystics-Wings game for High Post Hoops, telling me that Dallas Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb and head coach Fred Williams had been in an altercation.
It felt like a big deal immediately, and we treated it as such. But just how seismic it turned out to be, we’re still finding out.
Consider Tuesday’s news, the headline that Cambage wants a trade out of Dallas. Don’t miss the smaller but still-important hiring of Fred Williams in Los Angeles. In and of itself, this makes sense — a WNBA sherpa for Derek Fisher as he learns the league.
But there’s this Liz Cambage context: Williams recruited Cambage for years, through letters, a relationship that is more Downton Abbey than 21st century sports in nature. While there are unknowns — for instance, whether Williams in Los Angeles is a reason for Cambage to ask out of Dallas specifically, and whether she’ll try to nudge the trade process toward L.A. as a result — what we know is shortly after the altercation, the coach who was beloved by Cambage and other players alike wasn’t in Dallas anymore. And now, Cambage doesn’t want to be, either.
All of which is not to say the Wings are bereft. A Cambage deal should return valuable pieces. Brian Agler is on board to help build a roster around his principles, which have won championships, it should be noted, everywhere he’s gone. And now, Cambage’s decision provides Bibb with certainty going forward. All of this is valuable.
But it was all set into motion that August afternoon. I can’t help but wonder just how much WNBA history will feel the ripple effects.
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This Week in Women’s Basketball
At High Post Hoops, we put together five Liz Cambage trade ideas.
And it’s been a fast, furious WNBA offseason already. Here are three Maya Moore trade ideas, if she ends up asking for a trade.
Michelle Smith breaks down seven Pac-12 seniors you need to know.
Great deep dive from Sean Hurd on Kalani Brown.
Mechelle Voepel looks at Maryland’s sensational freshmen.
Doug Feinberg writes about Joni Taylor of Georgia pulling a Lindsay Gottlieb.
Mary Scharff died, and Phil Anastasia gives her the proper sendoff.
Good look at Arizona’s Aari McDonald from Scott Mammoser at Beyond The W.
More Pac-12 goodness, Tom FitzGerald on Stanford’s DiJonai Carrington.
Matt Ellentuck got Kevin Garnett to riff on why he values the WNBA so much.
Hayes Gardner spotlights Kansas State point guard Kayla Goth.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder is always interesting, and Cindy Smith’s interview with her is no exception.
I don’t need to tell you to listen to Around The Rim, do I?
Blake DuDonis’ podcast is also fantastic, particularly this one with Hampton coach David Six.
Tweet/IG of the Week
Five at The IX: Alana Beard, Los Angeles Sparks
I spoke to Beard by phone last week.
HOWARD MEGDAL: So I want to first get your take on seeing Kristi Toliver get this coaching opportunity, leaving aside the obvious Duke alum/Maryland alum rivalry aspect of it…
ALANA BEARD: Well you know, I think with Kristi and I it goes beyond the rivalries. We have a bond that you build when you play for a championship team. So with that said, I am not surprised that Kristi took this step and I’m not surprised that she was hired, because she’s a great basketball mind. A lot of times you don’t know from the outside looking in, you don’t necessarily understand how much of an impact a player may have on the offensive side of things in terms of putting players in their position, knowing where the ball needs to go, just having a high IQ for the game and that’s what Kristi has.
HOWARD MEGDAL: There are no shortage of players, as you know, capable of doing this, and everyone I’ve asked, you are on everybody’s list, and so I just wondered from your perspective, first of all, what your level of interest would be at doing it?
ALANA BEARD: Well I think that’s interesting Howard, because you know, a lot of people may question what I’m doing and why basketball is not in the forefront of my plans. I’ve always been adamant about doing things beyond the game of basketball but at some point staying within it. I’m humbled that everyone thinks that I have the potential to move on, but I’ve always said that I will not take a coaching job unless it’s at Duke, because Duke has a special place in my heart. But with that said, I’m focused more on the business aspect of things. I’m out here at San Francisco right now doing two months of internships with a venture capital firm and a startup just so I can get that experience and move on in that direction after I transition.
HOWARD MEGDAL: So from your perspective it’s not something for you, but it does seem like a pathway that makes a lot of sense for a lot of players and has for a long time, it’s almost like the NBA is just coming around to that now?
ALANA BEARD: Well it’s interesting, I’m not saying that it’s not for me and I’m not closing the door on that opportunity. But with that being said, that’s not in the forefront of my plans.
But it makes sense for the professional athletes to move onto coaching because we’re experts in that field. We can be a part of the growth of the next generation and that’s how the game continues to grow, so why wouldn’t you want to experience that? But with that being said, it takes a special individual to make that transition. Just because you’re a great player on the court doesn’t necessarily mean you’re capable of relating at a certain level with certain individuals and it doesn’t mean that that transition is going to be easy.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I wonder how significant you think that change in thinking is, that just the success that Kristi’s having on the heels of Becky Hammon will change just the way in which you 10 years from now you would be thinking about what your options were at the conclusion of your career?
ALANA BEARD: I just think with Becky Hammon and Sue Bird and now KT, it’s just that they are creating a world of no boundaries. It’s sad to hear that Katie [Smith] hasn’t had the opportunity [to coach men] because I think she’s one of the ones that can be extremely beneficial to any organization, whether it’s men or women, and I’m going to continue to harp on the fact that you can have the skill level, you can have the IQ, but it will also take a certain EQ that will help that transition and make you a coach.
HOWARD MEGDAL: For you personally this offseason I’m curious how you’ve processed what you want to do in 2019, what your thought process is about for whom and where you want to play?
ALANA BEARD: I can tell you that my heart is in LA and it will always be in LA and I’m going to speak on it because that’s just the way it is, it’s how I feel, it’s who I am. I’m loyal to LA. Penny Toler, she gave me an opportunity that a lot of people didn’t give me back in 2010 and I still get emotional talking about it because Penny Toler signed me to a three-year guaranteed contract without ever seeing me workout after a potential career-ending injury.
And it’s someone that I’m extremely loyal to and it’s an organization that I’m extremely loyal to and with that I’ve gotten a championship out of it and I couldn’t be more fortunate and grateful for it. So I’m not the one to play the games, I’m not going to go into free agency or anything like that, I’m going to be back in LA if everything works out, that’s just the way it is.