Thomas’ Stay Ends Quickly
Acquired from Atlanta in an expansion draft-day trade for Ivory Latta, Thomas was supposed to give the Shock a reliable perimeter shooter to play the small forward position vacated by Swin Cash. But her recovery from off-season knee surgery diminished her conditioning, and she never quite got the level where head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer was comfortable putting her on the floor for long stretches. She scored eight points on 4-of-15 shooting. Acquired in part for her long-range touch, she was just 0-for-2 from beyond the arc.
“I thought LaToya could play the 3, but coming off of last year she wasn’t in the best shape,” he said after Sunday’s win in Atlanta. “It was clear she had to play the power forward, and there’s no (playing) time at the power forward.”
The acquisition of veteran small forward Sheri Sam during training camp and the emergence of rookie post players Olayinka Sanni and Tasha Humphrey gave Thomas little chance of cracking the rotation during the season.
“I think we looked at our roster and we’re very deep at the forward spot,” Laimbeer said. “And I don’t want to bury a player and not give her an opportunity to play, especially since it’s a contract year for her and it was clear to us she wasn’t going to be here next year, so it was time to move on.”
In Murphy the Shock get a younger, more athletic player to fill in at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Though it’s unlikely she’ll garner significant minutes this season, the coaching staff risked little to get a look at a second-year player with the potential to develop.
“We got a player in return who I think can spread the floor, has a good 3-ball and give us some backup help at the 3 position,” Laimbeer said.
Murphy also was squeezed out of the lineup, falling behind the pack in guard-heavy Minnesota, appearing in just two games. She averaged 5.2 points on 37.2 percent shooting as a rookie in 2007.