Seimone Augustus retires, joins coaching staff as Sparks trim roster
The Sparks roster isn’t the only thing that changed Thursday when teams had to trim their lineups in preparation for the season.
Instead of returning to the court for her 16th WNBA season, four-time WNBA champion Seimone Augustus will retire and join the Sparks bench as a third assistant coach, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed. In addition to clearing the 37-year-old’s roster spot, the Sparks also waived forward Kristine Anigwe and traded guard Sydney Wiese to finalize their 12-player roster less than 30 hours before their season opener against the Dallas Wings on Friday.
Augustus was on a training camp contract this year after joining the Sparks on a one-year deal in 2020. The WNBA has allowed teams to hire a third assistant coach if at least one staff member is a former WNBA player. Augustus will join a coaching staff that includes assistants Latricia Trammel and Fred Williams and head coach Derek Fisher. Her 6,005 points rank ninth on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list. Last season, she averaged 5.9 points a game and shot 54.5% from three-point range in 21 regular-season appearances off the bench.
All-WNBA forward Nneka Ogwumike has fit in seamlessly over the years with the Sparks’ other talented players. This season, she’ll need to lead.
Cutting Anigwe left room for the Sparks to keep promising guard Arella Guirantes, despite the fact the rookie from Rutgers barely participated in training camp. Guirantes’ preseason was interrupted by health and safety protocols that prevented her from joining the team on time after the Sparks picked her 22nd overall in April. After averaging 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game as a senior, Guirantes was considered a top-10 talent before slipping to the second round.
The Sparks will get a second-round pick from the Washington Mystics for Wiese, who was the 11th pick in the 2017 draft. The former Oregon State star averaged a career-high 6.8 points and 1.2 assists per game last year.
Wiese was one of the longest-tenured Sparks players. With the exception of Russian center Maria Vadeeva, who will begin the season on the suspended list, only Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike remain from the 2019 team that was Fisher’s first in L.A. Vadeeva, who was drafted in 2018, won’t join the team until after the Olympic break.
Candace Parker, a Sparks cornerstone, reportedly will sign with the Chicago Sky. That’s like Clayton Kershaw leaving the Dodgers or Mike Trout departing the Angels.
After he was unable to retain Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray during free agency, Fisher tried to rebuild the roster with versatile players such as rookie forward Jasmine Walker and free agents Nia Coffey and Bria Holmes. Coffey and Holmes were both signed to training camp contracts and made the final cut.
Guards Te’a Cooper and Brittney Skyes will also return with free agent signings Erica Wheeler and Amanda Zahui B. completing the roster.
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