There’s been a buzz since Saturday regarding former Storm F Svetlana Abrosimova being cut from consideration for the Russian national team. A two-time Olympian, she captained the team that qualified the country for the London Games at EuroBasket competition last year.
Russian coach Boris Sokolovsky said Abrosimova’s lack of playing time for UMMC Ekaterinburg was a reason. The 31-year-old suffered an ankle injury early and was a reserve as the team finished third at the EuroLeague Final Eight competition this spring. Abrosimova, with Storm star Sue Bird at the point, did help the squad win the country’s league title in April.
“I don’t understand it,” said Bird, who played for Sokolovsky when she first went overseas and signed with Dynamo Moscow in 2004. He said he mainly watches games within Russia for evaluations. Abrosimova averaged 15 minutes in Russian league and 11 minutes in EuroLeague Women.
“I feel like she deserves to be on that team and it’s one of those things like every national team – tough choices have to be made,” Bird continued. “Unfortunately this was not in Svet’s favor but I truly believe she belongs on that team.”
Naturally the conversation shifts to Abrosimova returning to Seattle or the WNBA in general. Next to Deanna Nolan, Abrosimova is the top, healthy, player not linked to a team stateside. I was asked my opinion and the simple answer is yes, I think Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler should bring Abrosimova back. But I’d also say don’t ever trade Swin Cash.
The reality is everything comes down to money. As an observer, it’s not wise for the Storm to spend everything now and not invest in its future. That’s the only reason why I can understand a trade of Cash (or Le’coe Willingham and Ashley Robinson) and pass on Abrosimova. Agler needed to clear space to acquire young talent to develop for the future while winning now.
Abrosimova is entering her ninth season, which means the minimum she could be paid is $54,000 this summer, according to the CBA. Agler has two players at Abrosimova’s wing slot in Victoria Dunlap and Alysha Clark that could be paid a minimum of $37,260. No. 2 draft pick Shekinna Stricklen will be paid $47,589. And those three players fit what Agler preached during the offseason in getting a young wing to develop into a starter that can play multiple positions. Dunlap (6-foot-1) and Stricklen (6-2) also have size.
Abrosimova, who’s 6-2, is primarily a perimeter player. She definitely has experience and knowledge of Agler’s system, helping Seattle win the 2010 WNBA championship. At the KeyArena celebration following the 7-0 postseason run, Agler asked the crowd to help through cheers to convince her to return.
That day could be closer. Yet, already compensating Australian Lauren Jackson’s contract and making deals within the $878,000 salary cap to remain a postseason team as he adds youth, altering the plan to include Abrosimova is as tricky as it is intriguing.
“I don’t know if it would be something we could do smoothly right now,” Agler said on Monday. “It would be a negotiation. It would depend on what she would be expecting salary-wise. There’s just so much discussion. We haven’t even had the chance to talk about it thoroughly within our own organization, but we will.”
Abrosimova is interested. She told me on Monday through an internet exchange that she needs time to process all that happened last weekend, however. A former UConn star, she’s traveling through Miami, Boston and San Antonio to visit friends.
“Everything happened too fast and unexpected,” Abrosimova wrote. “I need some time for sure to think over my options. But there is a big possibility I’ll be back playing in WNBA this summer.”