No one understands how odds work better than those who operate a casino. So the Connecticut Sun will tell you that having a 44 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft is a comfortable position to be in.
“I was in the elevator with Renee Brown [the WNBA executive] the other day and I said to her, ‘Here is something I never thought I’d say: When is the Draft Lottery?,” said Mitchell Etess, the Sun’s chief executive officer.
The Sun knows when that day will be, but ESPN has imposed a gag order on the release of the date until it is ready to say at some point during the first week of December.
Of course, the way the Sun got there was by having the worst record in the league last year. And that is a situation they don’t want to be in again.
“No one wants to be in the draft lottery,” said Chris Sienko, the Sun general manager’ “But we are hopeful the odds pay out and we get the first pick.”
That first pick likely would be Stanford senior forward Chiney Ogwumike. Should the Sun get her, she would provide an agile complement to center Tina Charles, along with veteran Kelsey Griffin, at the small or power forward spot.
But in the meantime, management has been thinking about its options, although it can’t do much until the WNBA signs a new collective bargaining agreement with its players association. Those talks are ongoing.
At this point, the only actions a club can take are trading draft picks or players under contract. They are not allowed to offer deals to unrestricted or restricted free agents.
The Sun have two unrestricted free agents, forward Mistie Bass and guard Tan White. Coach Anne Donovan said Tuesday she wants them both back. But Bass, a 6-4 forward, may have the chance to get more playing time on another team. And that could lead to her departure.
Connecticut also has four restricted free agents; center Tina Charles, forward Kelsey Griffin and guards Kalana Greene and Allison Hightower. Other teams may offer those players deals, but the Sun have the right to match the deals and retain the players and it’s unlikely they want to lose any of their core four.
The Sun lost 77 games to player injury and were whole for just the first two games.
“Injuries were a big part of the problem and I think it’s hard for people to get excited [about playing] when they are losing, no matter what the reasons may be,” said Chris Sienko, the Sun general manager. “But all that will change.”
Among their veterans, the Sun seemed more certain Asjha Jones would play next season after taking 2013 to rest injuries than veteran guard Kara Lawson would be back.
“It’s to be determined in both cases,” said Sienko. “I texted Asjha a few weeks ago to see how she was feeling and she said she was having a tough time getting acclimated in Russia. Her Achilles’ tendon is still bothering. But we want her back and we think she can help us.
A league source said the Sun have solicited trade offers for Lawson, who played just a handful games before sidelined by injuries and then taking extended personal time to be with her ill father in Virginia.
“We have to assess the situation in what we do [with Lawson],” said Sienko.
Donovan said she was excited about coaching Jones for the first time when she took the Sun job. And she said Tuesday that hasn’t changed.
“I think we’re still in the same boat we were a year ago [not knowing if Jones will play next season],” said Donovan. “I’m sure we’ll be pretty close to training camp [which begins April 27] before we find out.”