As previously reported would happen, the Storm announced the signing of WNBA original Tina Thompson on Monday. Thompson, who turned 37 this month, was the league’s inaugural No. 1 overall draft pick in 1997. She won four championships with the defunct Houston Comets and played her past three seasons in Los Angeles.
After Houston folded, it was believed Thompson would finish her playing career in her native California where she starred at USC, leading the Trojans to a then-Pac-10 championship. But moves made by the Sparks on Thursday pointed to an end to her career with LA.
LA traded reserves Natasha Lacy and LaToya Pringle to Washington in exchange for Nicky Anosike, an All-Star post. The Sparks also have the No. 1 pick in April’s draft and are expected to select Stanford star forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike.
Couple Ogwumike and Anosike with returning young stars Candace Parker, Jantel Lavender, and Ebony Hoffman and there was no room or salary cap space for Thompson on the LA roster.
The league’s all-time leader in points scored (6,751), Thompson could be a perfect fit in Seattle. The 6-foot-2 forward did average a career-low 9.9 points in 33 starts last season, yet had more responsibility placed on her due to injuries. If the Storm stays healthy, she could contribute off the bench as she intended when originally signing with LA.
Thompson’s addition bulks up Seattle’s frontline. The Storm also re-signed reserve Ewelina Kobryn to a qualifying offer and added C Ann Wauters and F Victoria Dunlap to the mix. Combined, it’s a formidable lineup to help F Camille Little in the paint until three-time MVP Lauren Jackson returns in August after the London Games.
Thompson joins Wauters (2000), Jackson (2001) and PG Sue Bird (2002) as the fourth No. 1 pick to play for the Storm. Never before has a WNBA team had more than three No. 1 overall picks at the same time. Previously, Seimone Augustus (2006), Lindsey Harding (2007) and LaToya Thomas (2003) played together for the Minnesota Lynx in 2008.
Kobryn, a 6-4 post from Poland, played in 18 games for the Storm last season after joining the team in late June.
Thompson represented the WNBA at the NBA All-Star game last weekend. I’m hopeful to reach her to talk about joining the Storm. She’s already made offseason trips to Seattle to participate in charity functions and her agents are based here.
*PHOTO CREDIT: F Tina Thompson smiles after a play by The Associated Press.