Top Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Skylar Diggins-Smith

Jacqueline PowellJuly 7, 2022

Top Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Skylar Diggins-Smith

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    It doesn't look like the drama in Phoenix will subside anytime soon.

    A Wednesday report from The Next and The IX’s Howard Megdal suggested that the Phoenix Mercury have been “shopping” five-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith to multiple teams.

    This comes following a laundry list of unfavorable situations this season, of which Diggins-Smith has been at the center. It began with a heated exchange that took place between Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi on May 17.

    The tension continued when Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard proclaimed that the All-Star Game wouldn’t be an All-Star Game without Taurasi but didn’t acknowledge the two Phoenix players who will be honored, including Diggins-Smith and the wrongfully detained Brittney Griner.

    Diggins-Smith’s response was to tweet a clown emoji, which has since been deleted, above her coach’s statement. She communicated quite clearly that she felt blatantly disrespected by Nygaard.

    The coach publicly apologized to Diggins-Smith, but did she privately? During the final seconds of Mercury’s July 4 game against the Sparks, Nygaard designed a play for Taurasi rather than for Diggins-Smith to try to win the game. The latter led the team with 22 points.

    Now that it is clear the Mercury have interest in trading their best player, which teams have the cap space and trade capital to complete a deal? And which teams have a serious need for Diggins-Smith, who’s still in her prime at 31 years old and has one more year on her supermax contract?

Connecticut Sun

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    A question for the Connecticut Sun all season, even before Jasmine Thomas tore her ACL in late May, was what could they get out of their guard play? Their major offseason signing, Courtney Williams, was expected to give the Sun shot creation but not much else.

    Since losing Thomas, the Sun’s weaknesses in their backcourt have been exaggerated. A season ago, Connecticut had the best defensive backcourt in the W, and now it might have one of the worst.

    While Diggins-Smith isn’t the lockdown defender that Thomas or Briann January are, her defense has been a point of growth since she arrived in Phoenix in 2020 and developed under former head coach Sandy Brondello.

    The Sun also need a guard who can do just about anything, and that’s what Diggins-Smith has been for the Mercury. Head coach and general manager Curt Miller signed Jazmine Jones to a couple of seven-day contracts, but she’s barely seen any time on the floor.

    An issue that arises when potentially trading for Diggins-Smith is: How will she have room to penetrate and put pressure on the rim? But maybe having a dynamic guard like her could help put Jonquel Jones in space and give her more opportunities inside and out.

    Trade Idea: The Sun trade Brionna Jones and rookie Nia Clouden for Diggins-Smith.

    The Mercury need more strength and size in the post. This would only be for the rest of the season, as Jones will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. And the 22-year-old Clouden is a young, shifty three-way scoring guard with potential who just needs minutes to find her way.

Los Angeles Sparks

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    Why not reunite Liz Cambage and interim head coach Fred Williams with their old friend?

    The trio was together in Dallas in 2018, went 15-19 that season and made it to the playoffs. Like the Sun, the Sparks need a backcourt jolt, as they don’t have a guard who is as versatile as Diggins-Smith.

    While Jordin Canada can put pressure on the rim, she’s not a well-known floor-spacer. Lexie Brown has been shooting the lights out this season (45.9 percent from three), but she doesn’t score at all three levels. Kristi Toliver, 35, remains injury-prone, and Chennedy Carter is not getting the usage that was expected.

    While both Toliver and Carter are out with calf and knee injuries, respectively, Carter has played less than 15 minutes per game this season under both Derek Fisher and Williams.

    It looks like the Sparks aren’t sold on Carter, the 2020 No. 4 pick, as their guard of the future. But what also is concerning about the Sparks is they don’t have an official general manager.

    Who exactly is pulling the strings?

    Trade Idea: The Sparks trade Chiney Ogwumike and Carter for Diggins-Smith.

    The Mercury would gain a slasher and a dynamic young guard in Carter along with some size in the post, which Phoenix needs since it is without Griner and Tina Charles. While this fits within the salary cap well, a potential hitch is Ogwumike’s ties to ESPN in L.A.

    Let's remember the reason Ogwumike ended up with the Sparks to begin with. According to Fansided's Sabreena Merchant, she "reportedly was willing to walk away from the Sun were she not dealt to Los Angeles." Ogwumike might not approve of this trade regardless of how well it fits the salary cap.

Indiana Fever

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    Let’s take a moment and remember where Diggins-Smith is from: She grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and her alma mater is Notre Dame.

    An opportunity to play at home in front of a crowd that watched her grow up sounds quite advantageous. An opportunity to play alongside a talented young guard in Kelsey Mitchell and focused, motivated young talent while also being the veteran face of a franchise also sounds quite advantageous.

    And it’s not just any franchise—it’s her hometown team, and as we’ve learned, that matters to WNBA players.

    The question is if Diggins-Smith will have enough faith that Indiana 1) has a path to stability and 2) will do anything it takes to make sure it's in the best position possible for the Aliyah Boston sweepstakes in 2023. Diggins-Smith is also under contract for another season, so any trading partner should have vision for next year as well.

    Trade Idea: The Fever trade Danielle Robinson and Victoria Vivians for Diggins-Smith.

    Robinson is a pass-first point guard who is excellent defensively and as quick as any guard in the league. A pass-first guard might work well alongside Taurasi. And Vivians is having the best season of her young W career while scoring 11.2 points per game.

New York Liberty

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    How about a different reunion? As mentioned, Diggins-Smith has been coached by Brondello and played some of her best basketball under her. In an interview with Canadian journalist Lindsay Dunn from last December, Diggins-Smith expanded upon her relationship with Brondello and noted how it was the current Liberty coach who recruited her to Phoenix.

    “But getting to know her as a coach, as a mom, as a person, she took in my family and I, and really welcomed us and introduced us to the Phoenix Area,” she said. "I wanted to come here to play for a woman’s voice. I wanted to play for Sandy. She’s a former player and she really is a good coach.”

    Something else Megdal’s report mentioned about Diggins-Smith is that the clown-tweeting behavior doesn’t fly with all GMs around the league. I'm not sure if something like this would be acceptable in New York. But if anyone can convince Diggins-Smith to buy in and show respect, it's Brondello.

    Trade Idea: The Liberty trade Betnijah Laney and Crystal Dangerfield for Diggins-Smith.

    It sounds wild, but the Liberty have been playing three-point guard lineups with Sabrina Ionescu, Marine Johannes and Dangerfield. Imagine New York being able to get a bit more height in that third guard spot. Also, while Laney has been out all season with a right knee injury, she’s expected to return to play at the end of July.

Seattle Storm

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    The Seattle Storm have a one-track mind, and it’s to win the 2022 WNBA championship for the retiring Sue Bird. Adding Diggins-Smith, which would ensure Seattle has as many as eight Olympians, will make the Storm incredibly difficult to beat.

    The question is: Will Diggins-Smith agree to the type of role that her former Mercury teammate Tina Charles agreed to? Is coming off the bench an option that Diggins-Smith will be open to?

    But think about 2023. If the Storm trade for Diggins-Smith, they don’t just get her for the rest of 2022, but also for the following season. They could use Diggins-Smith and her star power post-Bird.

    What if Breanna Stewart departs Seattle in free agency for potentially the New York Liberty? Trading for Diggins-Smith allows the Storm the ability to avoid having to completely reset, and it would provide Seattle a true Bird successor—which is quite unclear as of now.

    Trade Idea: The Storm trade Gabby Williams and Stephanie Talbot for Diggins-Smith.

    Imagine the Storm playing a three-guard lineup with Jewell Loyd, Sue Bird and Diggins-Smith. While Sophie Cunningham can play the 4 offensively, she struggled guarding Nneka Ogwumike on July 4. Williams fixes that problem. And Talbot is a very dependable role player who can not only stretch the defense but also buys into defense.

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