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Originally published Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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New CBA leaves Storm in scramble

The WNBA has reached an agreement with the Players Association on a new collective-bargaining agreement and is expected to announce its...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The WNBA has reached an agreement with the Players Association on a new collective-bargaining agreement and is expected to announce its signing within the upcoming week, according to multiple sources.

WNBA president Donna Orender had hoped to have the CBA ratified last fall, so an expansion draft to stock the Atlanta Dream could have been held in December. In that scenario, teams would have been able to talk with free agents Jan. 15 and players could have signed starting Friday.

The expansion draft isn't likely to take place now until mid-February.

One source said teams now must submit the names of their core players by Friday. A core player is a player a team designates as untouchable. Teams can list up to two core players. Then teams will submit a list of six protected players, including their core players, who can't be selected in the expansion draft.

The college/international draft will be held after the NCAA title game on April 8.

Storm coach and director of player personnel Brian Agler said he has been working on several scenarios to prepare for the current scramble.

Seattle has just four players under contract — starters Lauren Jackson and Iziane Castro Marques, and reserves Tanisha Wright and Katie Gearlds.

Because Jackson is under contract, the Storm can core any other two players, whether they are unrestricted or restricted free agents. Sue Bird is expected to be one.

"That would be a huge goal of ours to have her on our team," said Agler.

Facing a lockout during the last CBA negotiations in 2003, the Players Association conceded in many areas, getting close to what it wanted in free agency but receiving just 4 percent salary increases over the course of the agreement.

Salaries were an issue this time as well. Details weren't revealed, but the league sold its broadcasting rights to ESPN in an eight-year deal for "millions and millions," according to John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president for content. The Players Association was hopeful of a windfall.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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