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What the new WNBA CBA means for the Mystics

SB Nation logo SB Nation 1/14/2020 Albert Lee
Emma Meesseman, Elena Delle Donne looking at the camera: The new WNBA CBA is great for the WNBA as a whole. But it also probably cuts the Mystics’ championship window short. © Photo by Khoi Ton/NBAE via Getty Images The new WNBA CBA is great for the WNBA as a whole. But it also probably cuts the Mystics’ championship window short.

The new WNBA and WNBPA CBA’s terms have been effectively agreed to. So let’s take a look at what it means for the Washington Mystics as they look to defend their 2019 WNBA championship. Here are some things.

Expect Elena Delle Donne to get the “supermax”

a person holding a baseball bat: WNBA Finals Portraits © Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images WNBA Finals Portraits
WELL-DESERVED EDD!

The new WNBA CBA can triple the pay of superstar players. Some could get $500,000 or more per season. Delle Donne, the 2019 WNBA MVP is a prime candidate to get the $300,000 offseason payment in addition to a likely max salary at $217,000.

After being the face of the Mystics’ franchise and a key part of their championship run last year, DELLE DONNE DESERVES EVERY PENNY SHE GETS!

Kristi Toliver could hopefully get a REAL COACHING SALARY!

Kristi Toliver et al. sitting in a chair using a laptop: New York Knicks v Washington Wizards © Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
Kristi Toliver’s reading the BF comments section with Troy Brown, Jr. on a daily basis.

The Mystics point guard and Wizards assistant coach is definitely keeping an eye on the future. Toliver is still playing at a very high level and stands to get a considerably larger WNBA salary. But after taking an assistant coaching position with the NBA team for just ... $10,000, the new WNBA CBA.

There isn’t much disclosed about what will happen to players in Toliver’s situation. but perhaps she too could get a “bonus payment” like Delle Donne could. Or maybe the Wizards can pay Toliver the salary she was entitled to all along. Either way, I don’t see her making $10,000 to help John Wall improve his agility as he heals from an Achilles injury.

The Mystics shouldn’t rely on Emma Meesseman as a key piece anymore.

Emma Meesseman et al. playing a game on the court: BASKET EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFICATIONS BELGIUM VS UKRAINE © Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images BASKET EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFICATIONS BELGIUM VS UKRAINE
Emma Meesseman is trying to lead Belgium to the Olympics. If Belgium makes it, she may miss the 2020 WNBA season.

As of the date of this posting, there are no changes in regard to whether the WNBA season will break for national teams’ training and tournaments besides the United States. If there were changes, then I think the league release would have said so. I’ll be more than happy to axe this if and when I see something to the contrary.

But for the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP, she actually loses, at least from a WNBA player standpoint. Since there won’t be breaks for EuroBasket or other international tournaments, it’s safe to expect that she will be a less featured player for the Mystics going forward, especially if Belgium makes the Olympics next month at qualifiers in Oostende this February.

Since I think Belgium will make the Olympics, I’m going to have to be pessimistic here. I predict that Meesseman will miss the 2020 WNBA season if Belgium makes the games in Tokyo.

I’d love to be wrong, but it’s more realistic than seeing the team build around her specifically.

If you’re a Belgian or European reading this piece hoping that the new CBA would make her the Mystics’ franchise player, it’s just not happening. Unless Meesseman quits playing for Belgium (and probably UMMC as well), I don’t think the Mystics can utilize her in more roles besides as a “sixth woman extraordinaire.” And there’s always a chance that an American player, like Tianna Hawkins, improves to the point where keeping Meesseman becomes unnecessary to win a championship.

I already wrote about the WNBA falling short with Europeans like Meesseman last December. And I am a bit disappointed because that also cuts the Mystics’ championship window short.

You can expect the Mystics to core Meesseman to prevent her from signing with another team. That way Meesseman will still get a fair salary for her services here in America, if and when she wants to play here. However, her role as a Mystic won’t be like Delle Donne’s as long as Delle Donne is healthy.

The Mystics’ championship window is still open. It will just close sooner than we would like

a group of people around each other: 2019 WNBA Finals - Game Five © Photo by Rich Kessler/NBAE via Getty Images 2019 WNBA Finals - Game Five
The Mystics still can win more titles. They just probably won’t win as many of them.

I try to keep things in perspective. At this time in January 2013 when Mike Thibault was just getting used to being the Mystics’ General Manager and Head Coach, I was just hoping that he would make the Mystics respectable in two or three years.

But those were dark times. Now, I’m getting a bit snobbish after that first championship! I want the Mystics to be a dynasty and be in the championship picture for at least another five years!

The bad news about Europe isn’t good for the Mystics, though I also understand that the CBA’s changes are more about improving conditions in America with an eye for the future. However, that doesn’t mean that the Mystics are destined to be a lottery team in 2020 if Meesseman misses this season.

The Mystics, even without Meesseman, are championship contenders this year. They’ll still have a very good chance of doing so in 2020 since Delle Donne and Toliver are still in their primes.

However, they will need to rely more heavily around their other core players like their All-Defensive wing rotation of Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins. Also, Aerial Powers has been a breath of fresh air for Washington since she was acquired in 2018. She’s been an unsung heroine in their championship run as well.

The Mystics have the WNBA’s best head coach in Thibault and will find a way to extend their championship window, often for much longer than I expect.

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