15 Situations to Follow as the WNBA Free Agent Signing Period Begins

Free Agents May Need Travel Agents
As the 2009 WNBA Hot Stove Heats Up

The free agent season is upon us, and there are plenty of terrific players who could be on the move. So let's take a gander at 15 of the more intriguing cases as we look ahead to another exciting WNBA season in 2009.

15. Vanessa Hayden-Johnson (RFA)
2008 team: Minnesota Lynx

OK, now I know not to put too much stock in overseas numbers, but she has been excellent so far in the EuroLeague for Venezia. Someone in need of a big body with some skill down low will be happy to bring her into camp. Of course, that team is most likely to remain Minnesota.

14. Svetlana Abrosimova (UFA)
2008 team: Connecticut Sun

A Russian sharp-shooter with the ability to score, she'd be a great fit to stay in Connecticut where she'd play in front of her college fans. The Sun appear to be interested in keeping her, but she could opt for a potentially bigger role somewhere else.

13. Point-ed Questions

Nikki Teasley (UFA)
2008 team: Atlanta Dream

Temeka Johnson (RFA)
2008 team: Los Angeles Sparks

Tanisha Wright (RFA)
2008 team: Seattle Storm

Two-time All-WNBA Second-Teamer Teasley missed last season after having a baby, but signed with the Dream late in the year. If she's 100 percent, she'd be a valuable addition to Atlanta's backcourt.

Johnson was the 2005 Rookie of the Year and, when healthy, is one of the league quickest, most dynamic floor generals. Injuries have limited her, however, to just 34 games over the past two years, but she's been playing well in Israel, so there's optimism for her 2009 season. She seemed to fall out of favor with Sparks coach Michael Cooper last season, so it's conceivable she'll be allowed to test the free agent waters this offseason. A return to Washington could make sense for both parties.

Wright has spent four seasons as Sue Bird's backup in Seattle, but after impressing with her versatility late last year after a rash of Storm injuries, it's possible that she could leave in search of a starting gig elsewhere. Coach Brian Agler, though, has suggested the Storm are close to re-signing her.

12. Retire or return?

Tully Bevilaqua (UFA)
2008 team: Indiana Fever

Vickie Johnson (UFA)
2008 team: San Antonio Silver Stars

Yolanda Griffith (UFA)
2008 team: Seattle Storm

Margo Dydek (UFA)
2008 team: Los Angeles Sparks

Will they stay or will they go?

11. Chasity Melvin (UFA)
2008 team: Chicago Sky

Melvin could skip town for a team more likely to be in the title hunt. Still, the veteran power forward does provide grit and leadership to Chicago's otherwise-young squad, so they'll probably try to keep her around.

10. Ticha Penicheiro (UFA)
2008 team: Sacramento Monarchs

Barring retirement, this veteran point guard seems likely to remain with the Monarchs. And she had arguably her best offensive season in 2008, so even though she's 34, Penicheiro isn't at the end of the line just yet.

9. Nykesha Sales (UFA)
2007 team: Connecticut Sun

Sales sat out the 2008 season due to "nagging injuries," but made it clear that she was not retiring, just taking a rest. It still remains unclear as to whether or not she'll be back in the WNBA in 2009, but if she is, it seems likely that she'll be somewhere other than Connecticut. "We've moved on with her," Sun coach Mike Thibault told the Hartford Courant in November.

8. DeMya Walker (UFA)
2008 team: Sacramento Monarchs

Walker has missed much of the last two seasons due to serious knee injuries. In fact, she underwent another surgery early in December to remove and repair a broken screw from a prior procedure. If Walker recovers, she's capable of being a big-time contributor (she was an All-Star in 2005). And the Monarchs have stuck with her for this long. It seems likely they'll bring her back and hope she's ready for 2009.

7. Cathrine Kraayeveld (RFA)
2008 team: New York Liberty

It's hard to imagine Kraayeveld fitting with a team better than she does with the Liberty. And as much as she's been an up-and-down player, she's a valuable cog in New York's multifaceted offense. Of course, there are several teams out there that would probably love to add her stellar outside game to their repertoire. If Griffith doesn't return to Seattle, would this Oregon alum and Washington native think about returning to the Pacific Northwest?

6. Kara Braxton (RFA)
2008 team: Detroit Shock

Braxton has been a solid player in her four years in the Motor City. It's tough to argue with two WNBA titles and a start in an All-Star Game. But with the size and other physical attributes she brings to the table, it's not unfair to say that Coach Bill Laimbeer expects more from Braxton.

5. Ann Wauters (UFA)
2008 team: San Antonio Silver Stars

The big Belgian thrived with coach Dan Hughes and teammates Becky Hammon and Sophia Young in San Antonio this past season, so barring another major Silver Stars signing, staying put seems likely for Wauters.

4. Michelle Snow (UFA)
2008 team: Houston Comets

With staying in Houston no longer being an option, into whose hands will Snow fall? There have been rumors of Detroit's interest, particularly if Braxton goes elsewhere… and is there a coach better suited to get the most out of an underachieving player than Laimbeer?

3. Penny Taylor (UFA)
2007 team: Phoenix Mercury

Taylor missed all of 2008 to train with her native Australia for the Olympics. And according to the Herald Sun in Australia, Taylor "will have an ankle reconstruction in May once her commitments with Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg are completed, meaning she could be sidelined for several months," afterward. If she's able to play in 2009, staying in Phoenix with Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter fits her style wonderfully. If she can't, Phoenix might make a play for one of the following:

2. Tina Thompson (UFA)
2008 team: Houston Comets

As one of the world's finest players, there will be plenty of suitors for T2. Thompson grew up in the Los Angeles area, and staying on the West Coast seems likely. Furthermore, the Sparks have expressed their interest in adding a player of Thompson's caliber. But where would she fit in on L.A.'s front line? Yikes, it'd be like the U.S. Olympic team all over again! Still, there were rumors aplenty about Thompson's retirement after the 2007 season. So particularly with the demise of the Comets, the franchise with which she'd played for her entire WNBA career, hanging 'em up remains a possibility.

1. Lauren Jackson (UFA)
2008 team: Seattle Storm

Jackson is the best player in the world. And she'll end up going wherever she wants. She's said before that she wants to stay in Seattle. But Detroit has been very conspicuous about its interest in the 27-year-old Aussie. Sun coach Mike Thibault has reportedly talked to her in Russia. There have been rumors of her desire to play with Diana Taurasi and fellow Opal Penny Taylor in Phoenix. Honestly, is there a team in the league - heck, the world! - that wouldn't take a crack at getting LJ if they could? Still, one of the aforementioned four seems like the most logical destination.