Chat Transcript: GM Seth Sulka
Seth chatted live with fans on Friday.|
Sulka, who has guided the day-to-day operations of the WNBA franchise since its inception in 1997, spent this offseason improving the Mercury's roster by signing free agents Kamila Vodichkova and Australian superstar Belinda Snell.
The additions come a year after the GM utilized the top pick in the '04 draft to select Connecticut guard Diana Taurasi and brought in new players Penny Taylor and Shereka Wright.
Under Sulka's leadership, the Mercury led the WNBA in attendance in the league's first three seasons, earned three playoff appearances in its first four years and made it to the 1998 WNBA Finals.
The Mercury made a dramatic turnaround last season, finishing with a .500 record (17-17), an improvement of nine games over the 2003 campaign (8-26). The club looks to build on that momentum this summer and has its sights set squarely on a return to the playoffs in August.
See what Seth had to say about the No. 3 pick in the draft, this year's team and much more.
Tina (Arizona): Hey Seth, Can you tell us what your day tomrrow will be like?
Seth Sulka: Thanks for the question. My day tomorrow actually begins today, because I will work until midnight or so, go home for a few hours and get back to work by around 4:30. Being a West Coast team, our day starts earlier than those in the East.
Tanaja(middletown,ct): Hi, I am a big fan of your franchise and I luv the mercury. Can you tell me what you are going to aim for the most in the draft?
Seth Sulka: Our thought going into the Draft, is to look for the best big player available. Having said that, we would certainly look at a perimeter player if our first post preference isn't there.
Phoenix: Love the moves so far this off season. How do you see Snell and Vodichkova fitting into the team?
Seth Sulka: We set our priorities for this offseason to land a post player. And we were able to do that, in free agency, with Vodichkova. Snell fills the second priority we had, which was to add another perimeter shooter. So we're very happy with our offseason free agent moves.
David Shu, Scottsdale: Do you see more playing time at the center position for Lindsay Taylor and Ashley Robinson this coming season?
Seth Sulka: Ashley and Lyndsay both had great offseasons and as young posts, will need more time than perimeter players to show improvement. We'll have to see in training camp, just how far they've progressed.
Nila (Tuscon): Out of the top 4 or five players in this year's draft, who do you think will have the biggest impact on the league?
Seth Sulka: It's a unique draft, from the standpoint that there probably won't be one major impact player. But as you said, there is a group of five or six players that could be really solid WNBA players in their rookie season.
Shanna (Scottsdale): Obviously with the Mercury still being a relatively young team, veteran presence is important. That said, will Lisa Harrison be back in a Mercury uniform this season?
Seth Sulka: Well, I know that her general manager and her head coach sure hope so! Lisa had two knee surgeries last summer and has worked very hard the past six months rehabbing her knees in hopes of playing again. She'll come back to Phoenix next week and we'll assess her health and that will go a long way in determining whether or not she can play.
Steve, Glendale: I read your moving comments about the late Cotton Fitzsimmons on Suns.com... What is the biggest thing Cotton taught you that have taken into your current position with the Mercury?
Seth Sulka: It's interesting, Cotton was always available to help me on a day-to-day basis, so it's been a difficult past year. But the two things that I take from Cotton daily, from a basketball standpoint is, you can never have enough shooters; from a life standpoint, treat everyone the same way you'd want to be treated.
Ellen - Virginia: How do you feel about the posibility of drafting Kendra Wecker out of Kansas State?
Seth Sulka: Kendra Wecker has been all season, my favorite player in college. The tough situation for us, is twofold. One, will she be available at the third pick, and Two, it's the last position on the planet that we need to fill with players like Penny Taylor, Anna DeForge, Belinda Snell and Diana Taurasi. But, if she's the best player available when we draft, we'll take her.
Barry (Phoenix): You have a reputation of being very fan-friendly and very open with season ticket holders. How important is it for management of WNBA teams to be interactive with fans?
Seth Sulka: I think it's very important. It's more who I am, overall, than anything I specific try and do. And, being open and available doesn't mean all the interaction is very friendly (Laughing). But the fans know they can share their displeasure, which is most often the case, or their satisfaction, and I'll listen to both. But in our business of fans' attachment to players when a difficult player move is made, the fans often aren't very friendly. But I do think the access is very important.
Tom (LA): What are your plans for Kayte Christensen this season?
Seth Sulka: Kayte is going into her fourth season and is one of those players that fans, coaches, and teammates have tremendous amount of respect for. She plays hard every single minute of every game, and in practice. She has been welcomed by the fans of Phoenix with open arms, and I expect her to have another solid year.
David (Phoenix): Hi Seth, I have been fan of Phoenix Mercury for few years... I am sure this year will be improved a lot. However, can they play at elite level like Seattle and Los Angeles? Can Phoenix compete for the title? GO PHOENIX MERCURY!
Seth Sulka: We certainly felt that we needed to address our post play to be able to answer that question with a "Yes." Adding Vodichkova is a great step in that direction. We're also excited about having Gwen Jackson (who we obtained in midseason last year) for a full season. So, the answer is, we're heading in the right direction.
Seth Sulka: Thanks for all the questions. It's the best time of year to be a WNBA fan, with the draft and training camp upon us. I know we'll have a great ninth season as a league, and hope the Mercury can take that next step.