The 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm knew they had a great team even after their early exit from the 2011 playoffs.
But with players getting older and an Olympic year looming Seattle looked ahead to revamping, renewing and retooling.
The revamp came in the guise of a trade. The Storm sent forward Swin Cash and Le Coe Willingham to the Chicago Sky for the second pick of the 2012 WNBA draft.
They went in search of some height as they signed the number one draft pick of 2007 center Ann Wauters to help the team counter its loss of Lauren Jackson who will spend time with her national team as they head to the London Olympics.
Seattle traded center Ashley Robinson to the Washington Mystics for forward Victoria Dunlap, 22, an 11th overall pick by the Mystics in the 2011 WNBA draft.
The Storm signed Tina Thompson who is the leading scorer (6,751) in WNBA history. She heads into her 15th season after being the number one pick by the Houston Comets in 1997.
Thompson led Houston to four WNBA championships before they disbanded and has played with the Los Angeles Sparks since 2008.
“Our philosophy is we want to sign really good players,” said Storm Head Coach and
General Manager Brian Agler. “There’s no question she fits that bill. Tina has proven to be one of the best players ever in the league, has accomplished as much as anybody – not just individual accomplishments but from a team concept. She’s played on championship teams. She’s a winner.”
Seattle renewed the contracts of the best backcourt, and longest tenured combo with 117 games together, in the WNBA when they signed guards Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright to multi-year contracts.
They resigned free agent Katie Smith giving the Storm the top three active scorers in the WNBA with Smith (6,015) second behind Thompson and just ahead of Jackson (5,915) in third.
The retool comes when they open up the new season and mesh together the returning players with the new.
Bringing in the new Storm players will involve getting them used to the Storm offense and defense.
But for many Seattle players, old and new, they won’t have to teach them how to be champions. It’s in their blood and on their resumes.
The Storm begins play against the Los Angeles Sparks at 7 pm on Friday, May 18th at the KeyArena in Seattle.