The reshaping of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun began in earnest Wednesday with the trade of one of their core players, veteran guard Kara Lawson. to the Washington Mystics.
The three-way deal with the Atlanta Dream brings guard Alex Bentley, the former Penn State star, to the Sun.
The day began with Washington trading guard Matee Ajavon and its second-round pick, the 18th in the upcoming draft, to Atlanta in exchange for Bentley and a third-round pick (No. 32) in this year’s draft.
The Mystics, whose coach and general is Mike Thibault, the former Sun coach, then dealt Bentley to Connecticut for Lawson.
“I am extremely excited that we have added Alex Bentley to our team,” Sun head coach Anne Donovan said. “Alex is a young point guard who has a very bright future as a pro. As the No. 13 draft pick last season, she played some brilliant minutes for the Dream in her rookie year.
“I am thrilled to have her energy first and foremost. Her scoring ability and defensive toughness will be a great spark at our point position. At the end of the day, we want people who want to be here, want to buy into the program and who want to help us achieve our goal of bringing a WNBA championship to Connecticut.”
Bentley played in 34 games during her rookie season. She averaged 8.3 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 rebounds and was named to the 2013 WNBA All-Rookie Team.
“We’re very happy that we were able to acquire a young player with the upside of Alex Bentley,” Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said. “This is someone we feel fits into what Anne is trying to build here, and we have every expectation that she will grow into the kind of productive player we believe she can be.”
In 2012, Lawson had her best season as a professional, averaging 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game and helping lead the team to the WNBA’s Eastern Conference finals. But her departure seemed destined after an injury-filled 2013 season.
She signed as a free agent prior to the 2010 season after the dispersal of the Sacramento Monarchs and averaged 11.5 points while shooting 41.4 percent from three during her three years with the Sun.
But she played in just nine games last season because of injuries and illness of her father which caused her to take a long leave of absence.
“I am thrilled to acquire Kara Lawson,” said Thibault. “She brings a level of skill and professionalism that will help push us forward in our quest to become an elite team in the WNBA. Although we made great strides last season, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Kara’s ability to play both guard positions, her perimeter shooting skills, her toughness, and her leadership will all be important to our team.”
Lawson, who will again work the 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament as an ESPN studio analyst, played collegiately at Tennessee and was selected in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2003 WNBA Draft by the Detroit Shock. She was sent to the Sacramento in a draft day trade and in 2005 was an integral part of the Monarchs team that won the WNBA Championship.