The Minnesota Lynx and veteran forward Angel McCoughtry have agreed to a contract buyout, the team announced Thursday. It is the latest eyebrow-raising move out of Minneapolis as the Lynx sputter to a winless start.
McCoughtry, a 12-year veteran who has made four WNBA Finals appearances, signed with the Lynx in free agency. She was sidelined last year with a torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee while with the Las Vegas Aces.
“Minnesota is a great organization and a class act,” McCoughtry said in a statement through the team. “Thank you to [head coach] Cheryl Reeve, the coaching staff and my teammates for the opportunity to come to Minnesota. Although the organization has been very patient with my injury and helping me heal my body, sometimes it’s about what fits best for both parties. I believe in myself and I know I will be all the way back to perform at the highest level. To my fans, thanks for your support during this time. It’s because of your support that I’ll be back and ready to give the game all I got.”
McCoughtry, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft and Rookie of the Year, led the Atlanta Dream to three WNBA Finals. She's a five-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Last year she was named to the league's W25 team for the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history.
“On behalf of the Lynx organization and players, I want to thank Angel for her belief in the Minnesota Lynx when she chose us in free agency,” Reeve, also the general manager, said in a team release. “Angel is one of the all-time greats in the WNBA and we wish her the very best.”
The 6-2 forward missed the season opener and played sparingly in two games for the Lynx (0-3) as they struggle in the first week of the season. McCoughtry, 35, played a total of 20 minutes with 12 points (3-of-8), six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal.
McCoughtry played limited minutes for Lynx
Reeve was asked after the loss to Indiana on Tuesday if McCoughtry played only seven minutes because of her knee.
— Lucas Seehafer (@seehafer_) May 11, 2022
"I don't know. You'd have to ask Angel how her knee is doing," Reeve said, via Lucas Seehafer of The Next. She was asked as a follow-up if it was about production.
"We have a group consistently that gets on the floor and teams go on big runs on them," Reeve said. "Every game we get a 20-point swing or big deficit after being up 11 and then next thing you know, we're down nine. ... No one's entitled to a starting job."
Reeve mentioned wanting to play with "effort and connectedness." It was a similar line to her remarks in the preseason about selfish play and the team's inability to get center Sylvia Fowles touches.
Lynx roster looking bare
Minnesota's roster has been a revolving door.
The Lynx also waived Odyssey Sims on Thursday, according to the league's transactions page. The team said in a release it was a "mutual separation." She had been away from the team and did not play on Tuesday while dealing with what Reeve said was a personal matter. Sims was signed on May 3 and in the announcement was a line simultaneously stating six players had been waived.
Point guards Layshia Clarendon and Crystal Dangerfield, the 2020 Rookie of the Year, were both let go as was Rennia Davis, Yvonne Turner and both 2022 draft picks. Reeve said later Clarendon's stress fracture in her right fibula was the reason, but Clarendon said she was "100% cleared to play and practice" after rehabbing all offseason. "I'm feeling strong and ready to play!" they wrote on Twitter.
Forward Natalie Achonwa is out indefinitely after sustaining a right hamstring strain in the second game of the season. Forward Damiris Dantas is also still out with injury and guard Kayla McBride has not reported yet from her overseas team. Minnesota is without 2019 Rookie of the Year and All-Star Napheesa Collier indefinitely. Collier is due to give birth to her first child this month and her return, if she chooses to do so, is months away.
The Lynx had to release Davis, Turner and Nina Milić from their hardship signings on Thursday. They announced they had signed Evina Westbrook, the No. 21 draft pick out of UConn, to a hardship contract.
They host the reigning champion Chicago Sky (1-1) on Saturday night at Target Center.