The Washington Mystics were not expected to make much news when free agency officially began Monday, but the negotiation period has proved otherwise.
The Mystics have reached an agreement with forward Alysha Clark, who won a pair of WNBA championships with the Seattle Storm, according to a person with knowledge of the move. As the Mt. Juliet resident arrives, fan favorite Aerial Powers plans to part ways with the organization. Powers, a key member of the 2019 championship team, tweeted that she has agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Lynx after not signing an offer from the Mystics.
Clark (5-foot-11) was an all-defensive team selection the past two seasons and averaged a career-high 10 points per game in 2020 to go along with 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals. She also posted career-highs with a field goal percentage of 55.8 and a 52.2 three-point percentage.
Storm teammate Jewell Loyd called Clark the “heart and soul” of the team during the 2020 Finals.
“Numbers don’t lie: She’s defensive player of the year,” said Loyd, The New York Times reported. “Knowing what she can do every night and what she has been doing every night, it’s remarkable.”
Gary Kloppenburg, who coached the team in 2020, added, “She’s just one of those players, whoever her assignment is, she’s going to take some things away and make them really work for everything they get.”
Clark was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by San Antonio out of Middle Tennessee State but did not make a WNBA roster until catching on with the Storm in 2012. The Denver native who blossomed into a basketball star while at Mt. Juliet High School from 2002-05 became a full-time starter in 2015 and has started all but five games that she’s played since.
Clark appears to be the replacement for Powers, who seemed to be settled on returning to Washington earlier in the offseason. The 5-foot-9 five-year veteran was in the midst of a career year, averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals before a hamstring injury sent her home from the bubble in Bradenton, Fla. She took full advantage of the extra opportunities presented by the team not having Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles, Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders because of opt-outs. Powers was involved in shooting some promotional videos during the offseason, but something changed and she decided to take advantage of her free-agency options.
Tianna Hawkins and 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman are also free agents off the Mystics roster.