In Sign-and-Trade, Diggins-Smith Joins the Phoenix Mercury

By: Dani Bar-Lavi
Posted: February 13, 2020

The WNBA offseason just posted the NBA trade deadline up and dunked on it so hard that the backboard exploded. 

On Wednesday, the Phoenix Mercury acquired four-time All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith in a sign and trade deal with Diggins’ former club, the Dallas Wings.

This is the latest in a series of moves the Mercury have made to extend their competitive window, having traded forward DeWanna Bonner to the Connecticut Sun earlier this week for some of the picks that made this deal possible.

With the addition of Diggins-Smith, the Mercury look to build on a core that was able to make it to the playoffs despite missing their franchise player, Diana Taurasi, for much of the year. Skylar Diggins-Smith is a dynamic scorer off the dribble or drive, and adding a third walking bucket to the team as Diggins-Smith joins Taurasi and elite big Brittney Griner to form one of the most proficient and talented trios in the WNBA.

How do you guard this team? With Taurasi on the perimeter, Griner in the paint, and Diggins-Smith on ball in between, the Mercury are going to be a team to watch in a WNBA season already loaded with contenders. This deal looks great for the Mercury–they were able to flip a player who had an unexpectedly great season in Bonner into pieces for a player that will help this team chase a second championship for the duo of Griner and Taurasi–and a fourth championship for the greatest player to ever play for their franchise. 

On the Dallas side of this deal, the Wings lost another generational talent due to mismanagement having lost Liz Cambage in free agency last year, but I suppose that the Wings made the best of a bad situation (which they in the first place caused) this time around.

Following reports over the last few months that Diggins-Smith was unhappy with the expectations of the Dallas Wings organization following the birth of her son, Diggins-Smith reportedly told the Wings she no longer wished to play for them. By designating Diggins-Smith a “core player”, Dallas was able to resign Diggins-Smith with the promise of trading her to the Phoenix Mercury. Despite the total disaster in the way the Wings handled their star, they were still able to wring three first round picks out of this situation–one for 2021, and two for 2020. After this trade, the Wings now own the second, fifth, seventh, ninth, fifteenth, and twenty-first picks in the 2020 WNBA Draft, per ESPN.

The Wings are now in a rebuilding era, finding the right pieces to put around last season’s runner-up Rookie of the Year Arike Ogunbowale. The Wings could keep their picks as is and draft a wide range of talent, including Oregon’s Satou Sabally or Baylor’s Lauren Cox, or try to maneuver a trade to consolidate their picks and take both of them, or even further; packaging the second pick with other picks in hopes of wresting the first pick–and Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, the draft’s top prize, away from the New York Liberty.

Overall, I would say this is an excellent trade on both sides. My usual inkling would be to declare a winner and a loser in a trade. However, both of these teams have made the right moves to be competitive in their time; the Mercury this season, and the Wings sooner than you might think. 

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