The New York Liberty did a complete 180 during last season as they won the eastern conference regular season and were the team to beat in the East. After missing the playoffs in 2014, Tina Charles with the help of Epiphanny Prince and some veteran leadership led the Liberty to a 23-11 record and Bill Laimbeer was named WNBA Coach of the Year. After coming close to losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Washington Mystics, the Liberty moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2010. In what was considered an upset to some, the Liberty lost to a very talented and determined Indiana Fever team in the Eastern Conference Finals. A disappointment to many, the Liberty will look forward to suiting back up and redeeming themselves in 2016. Unfortunately, they will have to do a lot of it without one of their star players as Prince recently had knee surgery that will keep her out for at least the first half of the season.
The only restricted free agent on the Liberty’s roster is Carolyn Swords. Swords who spent her entire career in Chicago before coming to New York last offseason provided pretty decent backup minutes to Tina Charles. As Kia Stokes emerged as a huge presence in the post, especially on defense, it seems as though she will be the one to back up Charles moving forward. There aren’t very many players with the size that Swords has so if NY decides not to keep her on their roster there will certainly be other teams that will show interest. It is important that Swords finds a way stay healthy as she missed several crucial games at the end of the season.
The Liberty will have a lot of decisions to make this off season in dealing with their unrestricted free agents. Essence Carson, Swin Cash and Candice Wiggins are all unrestricted free agents. Carson who has spent her entire career with the Liberty has seen her minutes go down the past two seasons after tearing her acl back in 2013. It will be interesting to see what the Liberty will do when it comes to Carson. Seemingly healthy, she only missed one game during the 2015 season and contributed where she could. Carson has great size for her position and has a ton of experience. She will probably check out what interest there is around the league before making a decision but I imagine she would love to continue on with New York as she has been there through the best and the worst of times.
Swin Cash played big minutes for the Liberty and was a key piece in their success this past season. Her leadership showed and she was able to rally her troops to finish the season with the best record in the WNBA. Cash, who has 13 years in the WNBA is still capable of keeping up with the best of them. There have been whispers of retirement as she has a booming career being a sports analyst during the off season, but nothing coming from her says that she is ready to hang it up. Every team needs veteran leadership and Cash definitely brings that in addition to the 11 points and almost 6 rebounds she averaged this past season. Not too shabby for a 36 year old. If Cash decides she wants to continue on, I’m sure the Liberty will be all for having her be apart of their team for 2016 season.
Lastly, Candice Wiggins, who was a newcomer to the Liberty last season is back on the market. Wiggins didn’t average big minutes for the Liberty but was always a spark coming off the bench. With the emergence of Sugar Rogers, Wiggins had to take a backseat to the youngster who pretty much had a breakout season. Candice, who is from California may look to head back to the Western Conference, but will probably test the market and see where she fits best.
The Liberty losing Epiphanny Prince to injury is a big deal as she was the second leading scorer on the team. Her being out will give others an opportunity to step up and prove themselves but she will not be easily replaced. The Liberty will have to find some help for Charles if they want to have the kind of season they had last year. I think the Liberty will make major moves this offseason. Most of their dealings will probably be through free agency as there aren’t many big names coming through the draft. What do you think the Liberty need to do this off season? Who can fill the shoes of Prince? Is Rogers ready to be the copilot to Charles?