Natasha Howard, Katie Lou Samuelson on the move

The New York Liberty have acquired Natasha Howard from the Seattle Storm in exchange for draft compensation, sources informed Winsidr’s Rachel Galligan on Wednesday. 

New York will send Seattle the number one overall pick in 2021, Phoenix’s 2022 first round pick, and a Liberty 2022 second round pick for the rights to sign Howard. 

In a separate deal also reported by Galligan, Seattle has flipped the 2021 top pick to Dallas in exchange for Katie Lou Samuelson and a 2022 second round pick. 

The terms of Howard’s contract with New York are a four-year deal netting Howard $215,000 in 2021, $221,450 in 2022, $227,900 in 2023, and $234,350 in 2024, per Galligan. 

Howard – drafted 5th overall by Indiana in 2014 – is one of the best two-way bigs in the league. She was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2019, the same year she earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. With Breanna Stewart still recovering from an Achilles tear and Sue Bird also sitting out the 2019 season, Howard lit up her opposition, averaging 18.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.7 blocks. 

With the return of Stewart and Bird in 2020, Howard’s numbers dipped, but she was still supremely effective on defense and a key contributor in the Storm’s march to the title. 

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Howard projects to fit seamlessly into New York head coach Walt Hopkins’s system, which emphasizes three point shooting and spacing. Howard is a center capable of hoisting jumpers from behind the arc, and can guard wings without getting lost. 

Meanwhile Seattle has now lost two of its most important players from its 2018 and 2020 title runs in Howard and Alysha Clark (Washington). How Samuelson adapts to her third WNBA team in three professional seasons will determine a lot in Seattle’s quest to repeat as champions. 

Samuelson was drafted 4th overall by Chicago in 2019. Prior to the 2020 season, she was traded to Dallas along with a 2021 first round pick in exchange for Azurá Stevens. She has averaged 3.8 points in 14.1 minutes per game over the course of her two-year career.

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