Storm starter Iziane Castro Marques bounced out of the team's training facility Thursday morning yelling, "Yeah, I'm free!"
The cryptic burst of liberation could be taken as a reference to Castro Marques signing only a one-year contract with Seattle this summer.
Castro Marques was frustrated at being benched for eight regular-season games due to poor shooting and defense. She has a history of animosity against not getting her minutes, breaking her offseason contract in Prague, Czech Republic last fall because the team did not play her.
But Castro Marques, 24, said her return to the starting lineup for the latter half of the Storm season increases her likelihood of returning for 2007. As a fourth-year veteran, she's a restricted free agent. If offered a deal from another WNBA team, the Storm would have 10 days to match the contract or let Castro Marques walk, much like center Kamila Vodichkova did in 2005 when Phoenix offered the Czech Republic native a three-year contract worth more than $200,000.
"I always put it that my main thing is to play," Castro Marques said of her earlier thoughts of not returning. "I want to be on the floor and I think the way that I finished this season, that's not going to be an issue next year. So, I'm not concerned about coming back and not playing. As long as I'm playing, I'll be much happier to come back.
"I have some [teams] in mind where I could be in the starting lineup or play as many minutes as I think is good for me. But I really want to stay here."
Castro Marques, a lean 6-foot small forward, averaged 13 points on 51 percent shooting from the field in the team's final 11 games, when the Storm posted a 7-4 record.
She had been replaced in the lineup by rookie Barbara Turner, who Storm coach Anne Donovan said at the start of training camp would challenge Castro Marques for the role. Castro Marques was back in the starting lineup for the last 10 regular-season games.
Turner, who replaced Castro Marques with 2:49 remaining in the Game 2 loss to Los Angeles in the opening round of the playoffs, was eventually pulled from the starting lineup due to a slightly sprained right ankle. The Storm was 5-4 with her as a starter this season.
Castro Marques said she is going to stick to her policy of signing one-year WNBA contracts. "I prefer a one-year deal because if I'm not happy, I can just leave," she said.
She is scheduled to join the Brazilian national team this weekend and begin preparations for the , Sept. 12-23 World Championship.
• Center Janell Burse, an unrestricted free agent, said her agent will most likely have her test the market, but she wants to return to Seattle. She will not have surgery on her partially torn left labrum because she can't forgo the money she'll make in Prague. "I feel like I'm just going to have to play with it until it does [fall off] because the money is too good," Burse said. "It would be great if we got the money that I'm going to make in Czech here [WNBA], then it would be easy to say, 'OK, well I'll just have the surgery and rehab for six months.' "
• Tiffani Johnson is also an unrestricted free agent, but wants to stay with the Storm.