Shock add forward, Haynie returns to Monarchs

Deal at the Deadline

There wasn’t very much action around the league before Monday’s 8 p.m. trade deadline but Shock general manager Cheryl Reeve did make one swap prior to the WNBA’s trade deadline, acquiring second-year forward Crystal Kelly from the Sacramento Monarchs for guard Kristin Haynie.

Kelly, a 6-foot-2 forward selected by Houston in the third round of the 2008 draft, makes the Shock frontcourt younger at a relatively low cost, Reeve explained following Monday’s practice. The trade deadline was 8 p.m. Monday.

“Going forward, that’s a position we want to continue to try to get better,” she said. “We’re an aging group and she’s only a second-year player [with a] good contract size.”

The Shock had lacked a dependable reserve power forward since losing the league’s best - Plenette Pierson - in the season opener. Reeve admitted the Shock had leaned too heavily on 38-year-old starter Taj McWilliams, who is averaging 30 minutes per game.

As the Shock’s push for the playoffs has intensified, so has McWilliams’ workload, including 34 minutes at Washington and 36 minutes at Atlanta last week. Her performance has suffered as a result. She’s averaging 7.6 points on 40 percent shooting in August (down from 12.3 points on 56 percent shooting in July).

“We wear Taj out in games playing her at the four,” Reeve said. “We don’t feel like we have a backup four for her to be able to continue to facilitate our offense. When Taj is not in the game, that area suffers for us.”

Kelly, an accomplished scorer at Western Kentucky where she became the Sun Belt’s alltime scoring leader and ranks 12th on the NCAA Division I list, could ease the burden on McWilliams, who turns 39 in October.

“I think she can provide us more of a high-post presence,” Reeve said of Kelly, who shoots 44 percent from the field. She’s averaging 4.3 points this season, but scored 7.4 points per game as a rookie.

Kelly, who should be at The Palace Tuesday night but is not expected play against the visiting Seattle Storm, had a pretty good game against the Shock on July 19. Kelly scored 10 points, shooting 3-for-3 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free-throw line in a Monarchs defeat.

Haynie’s homecoming ends...and another begins

The move is still bittersweet for the Shock and their fans, who had high hopes for Haynie when she signed with her hometown team before training camp.

The Mason, Mich., native was a fan favorite before she ever wore a Shock uniform, having led Michigan State to the 2005 NCAA championship game. But a quadriceps injury put her behind to start the season, and her playing time fluctuated throughout her Detroit stint. She averaged 2.2 points and 0.6 assists in 8.1 minutes per game. She played more than 10 minutes just five times in 20 games.

“We think the world of Kristin, we appreciated the idea that she was home, but if we weren’t going to get her the minutes, I think it’s hard - no matter where you are, even if you’re home - to be not contributing as much as she wanted to,” Reeve said.

Haynie will enjoy another homecoming by returning to Sacramento, where she spent her first three WNBA seasons. Drafted No. 9 overall following the Spartans’ celebrated run to the Final Four, Haynie played a supporting role in the Monarchs’ 2005 WNBA championship and return to the Finals in 2006.

Coincidentally, Haynie’s best game with the Shock came against the Monarchs at The Palace June 28. She tied a franchise record with four steals in the second quarter to go along with eight points and four rebounds (both season-highs) in an 86-72 Shock victory.