Sparks acquire Kristine Anigwe then cut roster to 12 players

Forwards Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike will again help anchor the Sparks' frontcourt this season.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

When the Sparks picked Beatrice Mompremier in the second round of the WNBA draft last month, assistant general manager Michael Fischer said getting the talented Miami forward was “like a Christmas gift in April.”

A month later, the Sparks were forced to put Mompremier back on the shelf.

Needing to get their roster under the salary cap in accordance with an agreement between the WNBA and its players union, the Sparks waived Mompremier and third-round 2020 draft pick Tynice Martin on Tuesday. The team also moved Maria Vadeeva to the suspended list while replacing the Russian center with Kristine Anigwe, who joined the team through a trade with the Dallas Wings.

Teams were required to get under the salary cap by Tuesday so players can begin getting paid by June 1 during the pandemic-postponed season.


Unable to see potential rookies in person because the coronavirus outbreak postponed training camps and the season’s tipoff, the Sparks favored proven talent while whittling their roster to 12.

Forwards Candace Parker, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, and guard Chelsea Gray highlight the group along with offseason acquisitions Seimone Augustus and Kristi Toliver, who have six WNBA championships between them. The Sparks average 6.4 years of experience per player on their current roster, a jump from last year’s mark of 4.6 when the team was swept out of the playoffs in the semifinals.

Anigwe, who was the ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft, is the youngest player on the final roster. The Wings sent the 6-foot-4 center and a 2021 third-round pick to L.A. in exchange for the Sparks’ 2021 second-round pick. Anigwe averaged 2.4 points per game last year in just 9.3 minutes per game.

“Kristine Anigwe is a versatile, two-way post player who will provide additional athleticism and rebounding to our frontcourt rotation,” Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said in a statement.

Anigwe joins a frontcourt with the Ogwumike sisters, Parker and third-year center Marie Gülich.

For a league always trying to carve out space in a crowded sports landscape, the WNBA says the global health crisis will test but not slow their progress.

Guards Riquna Williams, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Brittney Skyes and Sydney Wiese round out the roster.

The Sparks said in a statement Tuesday they will remain in “close contact” with Vadeeva, who will rejoin the team in 2021. Players on the suspended list remain on a team’s roster but don’t count toward the 12 official spots. Second-round pick Leonie Fiebich will also remain overseas, as was the Sparks’ intention when the team selected the forward from Germany with the 22nd overall pick.