On the league-wide cutdown date for WNBA rosters, the Los Angeles Sparks have acquired one more young player to fill out their frontcourt rotation.
As reported initially by WInsidr and confirmed to Silver Screen & Roll by a Sparks source, the team has acquired center Kristine Anigwe from the Dallas Wings. The Wings will also send a third-round pick to Los Angeles in exchange for a 2021 second-rounder. That second-rounder originally belonged to Dallas but was sent to the Sparks for Marina Mabrey earlier this offseason.
Sources have informed Winsidr that the Dallas Wings have traded Kristine Anigwe and a 3rd round pick to Los Angeles for a 2021 second rounder— Winsidr (@TheWinsidr) May 26, 2020
Anigwe was the ninth pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft by Connecticut out of Cal, but had difficulty earning minutes in a veteran-heavy frontcourt. She was traded to Dallas midseason and showcased more on the lottery-bound Wings, and still has three years left on her rookie contract.
The Sparks front office lauded Anigwe’s collegiate production in the team’s press release:
“We’re excited to add Kristine Anigwe to our organization,” Managing Partner Eric Holoman said. “She is a talented young player who showed tremendous leadership in college and who fits with the identity of our team.”
“Kristine Anigwe is a versatile, two-way post player who will provide additional athleticism and rebounding to our frontcourt rotation,” Head Coach Derek Fisher added. “She was an efficient and prolific scorer at the collegiate level, and our coaching staff is looking forward to working with her.
The Sparks had a roster crunch before acquiring Anigwe, with 13 credible options to fill 12 slots, and the glut was with their bigs. The team has confirmed that second-round pick Beatrice Mompremier — who was touted as one of the steals of the draft — has been waived. Furthermore, third-year center Maria Vadeeva will be suspended for the upcoming season so that the team can retain her rights while opening up a roster spot.
Vadeeva hails from Russia and has been spending the quarantine period at home. There has been some lingering uncertainty as to whether foreign-born players will be able to come to the United States in time for a potential 2020 season, and the Sparks hedged their bets by trading for a domestic replacement in Anigwe.
It is an unfortunate turn of events for Vadeeva, who was on track to play her first full season with the Sparks in 2020 after missing parts of 2018 and 2019 due to visa issues and international commitments. The team has incredibly high hopes for Vadeeva’s potential, especially on the offensive end, as she is only 21 years old and plays for the top club team (UMMC Ekaterinburg) outside the U.S.
Meanwhile, Anigwe’s presence also gives the team some insurance in case German-born Marie Gülich, who the team traded for at the start of free agency, is unable to start the season in Los Angeles. Anigwe can be the team’s fourth big behind Candace Parker and Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.
The WNBA still has no start date for its 2020 season but instituted this cutdown date so that players can be paid starting June 1.