The Minnesota Lynx will have to find a new player to lead the team in post-game victory dances.
Minnesota completed a sign-and-trade deal sending Charde Houston to the Phoenix Mercury Tuesday afternoon, along with the 24th overall pick in this year’s draft for the 18th overall pick.
Fans and media widely expected the four-year veteran out of Connecticut would not be returning to Minnesota this season, as her role on last year’s championship team was a miniscule one.
“She was able to positively impact our team, not only with her play on the court, but also with her personality off the court and with the fans. Charde had expressed an interest getting more playing time, and hopefully this trade will give her a larger opportunity,” said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith.
Coincidentally, the trade allows Houston to reunite with Alexis Hornbuckle, who was also dealt to the Mercury by the Lynx.
Houston was a fan favorite during her tenure in Minnesota, making the roster in 2008 despite getting drafted in the third round that year. The six-foot native of San Diego, Calif. was named an All-Star in 2009, averaging 13.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game that season.
Although highly productive in her first three season, Houston’s lack of defensive skills was noted frequently, leading to a heavily reduced role in 2011. She appeared in only 27 games, with a career-low 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds per game along with a 36.5 percent field goal accuracy.
Despite her “benchwarmer” status, fans will remember Houston for revitalizing Minnesota’s victory dance to The Sugarhill Gang’s cover of “Apache” during home games, a tradition that expanded to fans when she invited several to dance with her on the court following a 2010 home win.
However, Houston’s lasting impression of 2011 was shaving her head bald in support of her mother, a cancer survivor.
The transaction merely frees up a roster spot for Minnesota, but does little to alleviate the abundance of draft picks this season with only two slots available. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve recently discussed the option of drafting foreign players, whose needs would not be necessarily immediate. Last year, Minnesota made a draft day trade for player rights to Australian Rachel Jarry, whose services have not been required yet.
The trades of Hornbuckle and Houston to the Mercury may influence another Lynx event. Because Minnesota hosts Phoenix on May 20 to open the season, the presentation of rings from last year’s championship may occur on that date. Nine players from Minnesota’s 2011 championship team are returning, with the two remaining members now in Phoenix.