By Dorothy J. Gentry
It’s Thursday afternoon, the day before the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida – and just one week before the WNBA Draft – and Dallas Wings President/CEO/GM Greg Bibb is in meetings, juggling a million balls and no doubt wheeling and dealing.
After all, he has a lot on his plate: arguably the top player in the League – Liz Cambage – wants a trade; the draft is a handful of days away, and your other top player – Skylar Diggins-Smith – is missing at least half the season as she welcomes her first child.
And that’s just for starters.
But Bibb, an always impeccably dressed man with a no-nonsense persona, takes time to talk to WNBAInsidr.com from the Final Four about his favorite topic: the Dallas Wings. We take a peek inside the mind of a WNBA GM days before the draft and find one who appears not the least bit worried.
In fact, he sounds pumped for the start of a new WNBA season.
Bibb starts by laying out reason upon reason for Wings fans to be enthused about the upcoming season; which, by the way, is less than 50 days away.
“If you look at our roster, we still have a significant amount of talent – and young talent at that; Alisha Gray who was Rookie of the Year a couple of years ago; last year’s No. 6 overall pick Azura Stevens and the emergence of Kayla Thornton who just won a national championship in Korea,” he recites proudly.
He takes a breath. Then starts back up.
“And without calling every single name on the roster, look at some of our other players; Theresa (Plaisance) and the year she had in China; Kaela Davis, who was out of the line-up last season, is back; Tayler Hill is healthy now,” he continued.
“I feel we have a lot of talent. Do we have some things to address? Of course. But we are not in a rebuild. People say that but we’re not. But they can keep saying it because that’s when we become dangerous.”
Asked to elaborate on those “things to address” he just mentioned, Bibb doesn’t shy away.
“Well we have a new coach (2x WNBA Champion Coach Brian Agler) who is the all-time winningest coach in women’s basketball and new assistant coach Crystal Robinson who came from WNBA Champions Seattle storm. They’ll be adjustments for everyone to make with his coaching style, philosophy, schemes and more.
“Liz, as we speak is not resolved but we are working on it every day,” Bibb continued. “And Skylar we expect to be back at some point. When that is has not been decided but when she is ready, we will welcome her back. Until then we will put people into position to succeed.”
Bibb then clarified his comments that raised eyebrows this week when on Episode 2 of the Dallas Wings Wingspan podcast, he suggested that a trade for Cambage could go down right before the WNBA Draft.
“Let me clarify that,” he said when I asked if this timetable was still set. “I believe if there is a deal to be done, it will be easier to do it prior to the draft. There will be assets involved prior to draft that I would see as more equitable for us than after the draft. Usually, picks are gone and teams start focusing on the season. But not always. Something could happen that would make us want to make a move later.
“In short, I think it is an easier and shorter path now (to trading Liz) pre-draft than there will be after draft. It is more likely to occur before the draft.”
He declined to say what teams the Wings may be in negotiations with for Cambage, answering only “Multiple destinations” have been explored.
“At the end of the day, I hope everyone walks away happy but my priority remains with the Wings, the fan base, our organization, our players. If a deal of equitable value is returned to us we will move on it,” he said. “She is one of the best, if not THE best player in the League; an MVP runner up. So you can imagine the value I would place on her in terms of a deal being done.”
Speaking of the draft, Bibb characterizes this draft as great and is thrilled at the Wings’ picks (5, 17, 22 and 29) and what they may find.
“As it stands it is deep. The group at the top is very strong. There is a second group that is deeper and bigger. Our picks could change depending upon circumstances and that makes the draft even more important.
“We have an opportunity to significantly improve our team as does everyone else.”
And with that, Bibb was back to his meetings, phone calls, and preparations for the WNBA Draft and for what he and thousands of Wings fan hope, is a season to remember.
*Sabrina Ionescu has announced she is returning to Oregon for her senior season.