Earlier this week, the Minnesota Lynx made the long-awaited move to offload guard Odyssey Sims, sending the veteran and the rights to Temi Fagbenle to the Indiana Fever along with their 2022 first- and third-round picks in exchange for Indiana’s 2022 second-rounder. The Lynx needed to dump Sims’ contract in order to sign newly-inked wing Aerial Powers, as Minnesota had exceeded the CBA’s limit on how many protected contracts each franchise can have on their books.
The Fever—who have a plethora of developing guards to give minutes to between Kelsey Mitchell, Danielle Robinson, Lindsay Allen, and Julie Allemand (depending on international commitments)—proceeded to cut Sims after the Powers trade was complete. This means Sims will receive her full current contract, while still being eligible to discuss a new one as a free agent once she clears waivers over the next few days.
Don’t get thrown off by the salary dump and waive: Odyssey Sims is still a solid player who can bring a lot to a backcourt. An All-Star for the Lynx as recently as 2019, Sims was a positive contributor throughout her tenure in Minnesota, demonstrating her ability to make an impact as a playmaker and shot creator. Even last season, in the 13 games Sims played after recovering from the birth of her child, she proved a threat to create her own shot, scoring 1.194 points per possession on spot-up jumpers, putting her in the 84th percentile of the league, per Synergy.
“Odyssey [is]so good at manipulating the defense,” said Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, reflecting on Sims’ tenure with her team this week on the Cheryl Reeve Show. “She’s really special in that way. Just some really impressive stat lines where not only was she scoring, but she was sharing the ball and really exploiting what the defense had to do to contain her. Just a good player, I have nothing but great things to say about our time together.”
Having had additional time to rest and recover, Sims should be ready to move the needle for any team smart enough to pick her up. Many have been asking: Which contender is “an Odyssey Sims” away from taking the next step? Where will Sims’ free agency odyssey end?
Adding Odyssey Sims could be the cherry on top of what has been a sweet offseason for the Chicago Sky. The Sky kicked off free agency with the monumental signing of Candace Parker, adding a superstar to a Chicago Sky team that already boasted one of the best offenses in the league behind elite playmaker Courtney Vandersloot. Right now, however, there’s a hole in the Sky’s roster, just behind Vandersloot: they need a point guard to create plays for their second unit.
This is where Sims comes in. Last time we saw her at full strength back in 2019, Sims was one of the most productive playmakers in the league. She averaged a career best 5.4 assists per game playing in Minnesota, good for fourth in the league, just a few spots behind Vandersloot. Sims is a great fit for a Sky offense that figures to share the ball a lot, keeping the offense moving when Vandersloot and Parker sit. Adding a point guard to the bench squad will also help bring out the best in their high upside second unit—which will be vital with the depth teams such as the Las Vegas Aces and Minnesota Lynx boast.
To sign Sims, the Sky would have to move on from the training camp contract they signed with another back-up point guard option: Brittany Boyd. But between Boyd and Sims, the one whose last full season featured an All-Star appearance feels like the more reliable option. Plus, Sims brings the added benefit of established chemistry with Parker, having played with the Sky’s new star for two seasons back in LA.
The Washington Mystics find themselves in a uniquely challenging situation here in the waning hours of free agency. Projected to have $189,550 in cap room remaining, Washington has the most cap money left of any franchise in the WNBA. But, as of now, they can’t really do anything with it.
Why? The Mystics are still in the process of negotiating deals to bring back two important pieces from the 2019 championship team: Emma Meesseman and Natasha Cloud. Meesseman, that year’s Finals MVP, remains unsure of her ability to join the Mystics for part or any of the 2021 season due to her commitments to the Belgian national team, as well as hanging questions about the postponed 2020 Olympics. Cloud’s situation is a bit more complex—she’s a free agent, but because she didn’t participate in the 2020 ‘Wubble’ season, the Mystics retain exclusive negotiating rights with her. With Cloud and the Mystics reportedly still far from reaching an agreement, the Mystics hands, and money, are somewhat tied at the moment.
But, on the off chance the Mystics are able to resolve one or either of these situations in time to enter the Odyssey Sims race, I like the fit of Sims in Washington. Sims could help GM Mike Thibault cushion the blow of an offseason that has seen the departure of Aerial Powers, bringing in a player who has shown the ability to create on offense both for herself and others. Sims fits comfortably into the guard rotation, splitting time between the one and two in rotation with Ariel Atkins, Leilani Mtichell, and (probably) Natasha Cloud. In the event that talks with Cloud break down entirely, adding Sims to the guard rotation could become vital for a Mystics team looking to stabilize their offense.
Las Vegas Aces
Building depth at the guard position has been a clear priority for the Las Vegas’ front office, bringing in Riquna Williams and Chelsea Gray in free agency, offsetting the loss of longtime Aces veteran Kayla McBride. It’s only natural to assume the Aces would target Odyssey Sims to help build that point guard depth behind Gray and Kelsey Plum, who both figure to start for Bill Laimbeer.
By bringing Sims off the bench, the Aces can insure they have at least one, if not two, playmaking guards on the floor at all times. Combine this guard presence with Liz Cambage or A’ja Wilson in the post for most of the game, and the Aces look even more imposing on offense. Having another playmaker would be especially important early in the season, with Sims providing important relief minutes for Plum, who returns from an Achilles injury that kept her sidelined for the entire 2020 season.
Another bonus of adding Odyssey to the Aces bench is her familiarity with the Aces’ latest addition, Riquna Williams. ‘Bay-Bay’ and Sims seem to keep running into each other in the WNBA, having played together on the Los Angeles Sparks, as well as for the Tulsa Shock (now the Dallas Wings) back in 2015. Sims and Williams have a good sense for each other’s games, and their built-in chemistry would bring another offensive dynamic to an Aces’ bench that already features back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year and miracle worker Dearica Hamby. It could just be enough to push the Aces over the top.