In 2002, Seth Sulka begins his sixth season with the Phoenix Mercury.
Overseeing all basketball operations, Sulka is an integral part of the
Mercury's behind-the-scenes operations. For years, Sulka has been the one
to pull the trigger on all Mercury trades, drafts and other hirings.
Fueled with a passion for women's basketball, Sulka hopes to stock the Mercury for
a championship run in 2002. The Mercury GM chatted live on Tuesday, April 16, just three days before the 2002 WNBA Draft!
Kim, Sacramento: Seth, how do you balance the Mercury's need for immediate production and building for the future?
Seth Sulka: Well, Kim, you've actally asked one of the toughest questions that we have to answer as GMs and it's a question that GMs across sports have to answer. How do you balance a productive future vs. winning right now? You have to have a balance between young players who can contribute and older players who can grow them.
mb: Who do you project as your starting five?
Any guesses on W-L record at season's end?
Seth Sulka: Let me start by answering the second part first. Our goal this year is certainly to make the playoffs and to do what we have to improve on our 13 wins from last year. I think that's very possible considering that last year we were faced with many different challenges, for example the loss of Brandy Reed, the loss of Michelle Griffiths, the coaching transition and the injury to Michele Timms. So without committing to a certain number of wins, we feel that we're in a positioin to improve on last year and make the playoffs.
For the starting five, you'll have to wait for Coach Cooper's chat to ask that question.
Brian: Are the Mercury in the running for the possibility of acquiring the first pick from Seattle?
Seth Sulka: Well, my quick answer to that is that 15 teams are in the running for the #1 pick. I'm not sure if any will get it, but we are active in conversations with several teams as it relates to draft picks.
Anthony M., Phoenix: What is the status of Brandy Reed and is she going be in any trade talk for this upcoming draft? Thank you.
Seth Sulka: She is certainly a topic that we have a lot of conversation on within our organization. Currently Brandy is on our roster and we hold her rights. We have had conversations about Brandy with several teams, but I think the bigger question is has Brandy Reed matured enough to be willing to do the things she has to do to get back in this league?
SeattleSistah: Which has been the best overall No. 1 pick by a franchise? 1997 - Tina Thompson? 1998 - Margo Dydek? 1999 - Chamique Holdsclaw? 2000 - Ann Wauters or 2001 - Lauren Jackson?
Seth Sulka: I think that based on production so far, I think you'd have to say that Tina Thompson is a special player and has had tremendous success. Also, I think once Lauren Jackson feels comfortable with the WNBA's style of play, she is going to be a very special player in that at 6-5, she has skills that you normally would see in most guards. But I think, overall, the #1 pick has put great players in this league.
Volchick (Tennessee): Do you like Michelle Snow? How is she doing? Who do you think will get her? Do you think she will be picked in the first round?
Seth Sulka: I have to say that no player impressed me more in Chicago than Michelle Snow. I would be surprised if she isn't a top 10 pick. When you talk about someone that is 6-6 with long arms, athletic, can jump out of the gym, has good low post moves, excellent hands ... in any other season we would be talking about a top one or two pick. She had some inconsistencies in college, but looking at her as a pro prospect, she could be something very special.
She certainly will dunk this season in the WNBA. She does it effortlessly with just one step and although I personally don't think it's a big part of the women's game, I think it will create a lot of national attention.
LuvMyLibs55: Hey Seth. As a Libery fan I was a little upset to see Cleveland ending up with the #8 pick without having to give up much. Can you explain the logic behind that trade?
Seth Sulka: I certainly can't speak for Cleveland and it certainly wasn't a trade that involved only Phoenix and Cleveland. When all of the steps were done, we ended up with Grubin and Reid and we felt as an orgainzation that those two pieces would help us be a better team this year. Cleveland did part with their first round pick and a young athletic post and as you'll see in the draft Friday, young athletic posts are hard to come by.
Duncan (Kalgoorlie, Australia): G'day Seth. It seems that our two major weaknesses last season were at the 2 and 4 spots. With Williams & Tuvic on the rise, was it the uncertainty about Brandy's return the reason you "played it safe" with the recent trade, rather than risking an extremely inexperienced backcourt by picking another guard in the draft? Best of luck to yourself, the team, and especially Vealy this season!
Seth Sulka: Very good question. The uncertainty as it relates to Brandy played a major role in the trade. What we tried to do was acquire and replace the athleticism on the wing that we lost in Brandy and having seen Reid in Phoenix, we are more certain than ever that we did that. In the shooting guard position, we felt a vet like Grubin could come in and solidify those needs.
Brian (Seattle): What do you think of Lindsey Yamasaki? Is she a late first round sleeper?
Seth Sulka: Lindsay had a rough pre-draft camp. But coming off a late injury, I don't think WNBA teams will put emphasis on that. The thing that impressed me about Lindsey was her size. Not only is she very tall, but her body is very proportionate to her height. In the pro game, that will be a great asset.
Carol, CT: if you had the top pick, who would you choose? Who would Coop go for?
Seth Sulka: I'll have to refer you to the upcoming Coop chat as well! As for me, I probably would trade the first pick this year. My thinking would be to try to add several pieces to my team instead of just one. In the trade, one of the pieces that we would get back would have to be a pick in the top seven. If we had the #1 pick, we would look to trade it for a pick in the top seven and a couple of other pieces.
Clay, San Francisco: Seth, from a GM point of view, how do you support players who are/will be pregnant during their conracts?
Seth Sulka: A subject close to me in that my wife Carla is expecting our second set of twins this May. I think it's very important that as individual teams and as a league we are very supportive and provide everything we can to make that difficult time for a player go as smoothly as possible. It's a part of women's basketball and a good part of it.
BBALLFAN: Hi Seth. Did any players surprise you in Chicago that may sneak into the draft in the third or fourth round? Thanks.
Seth Sulka: I think quite a few players helped themselves in Chicago as it relates to the later rounds. Amanda Levens and Melody Johson from ASU played well. Although Amanda sprained her ankle, she showed how well she can shoot the ball. Also, another Pac-10 player, Edniesha Curry, really showed some strong point guard skills and I think all three players helped themselves.
DCfanatic: Hey Seth ... any insight into what the Mystics might be thinking with the 3 and 4 spots in the first round?
Seth Sulka: The Mystics are in a great position holding two of the top five picks. They can go several ways, including trading one or both of the picks or drafting two players. They could add a very good post player and a very good perimeter player at those positions. I really wouldn't be surprised by either scenario.
Thanks so much for all of the great questions and even though we don't have a first round pick right now with the Mercury, I hope our fans can hang in there with us. Thank you. Hi Madeline and Emily!