Katie Smith battles Achilles injury but Storm enthused about potential to add 13-year veteran
Three-time Olympian Katie Smith has a nagging left Achilles tendinitis injury, and isn't expected to play for the second consecutive game. She also missed the majority of training camp.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Exhibition, Tulsa @ Storm, 2 p.m.
The deal won't seem worth it on Sunday.
Seattle will play its final exhibition game against Tulsa and the Storm's biggest offseason acquisition will be in street clothes on the sideline at KeyArena. Three-time Olympian Katie Smith has a nagging left Achilles tendinitis injury, and isn't expected to play for the second consecutive game. She also missed the majority of training camp.
It's an ominous start for a player the Storm traded two first-round draft picks and Australian Olympian Erin Phillips to acquire.
"Well, the old lady has been sitting around doing nothing lately," Storm forward Camille Little jokingly said. "I'm excited to get her in the flow of things. "
What Smith brings to the table is why Storm coach Brian Agler isn't too concerned with the lack of practice time.
Smith, who turns 37 on June 4, still had teams clamoring for her services when free agency opened in February. That included Washington, which tagged her as a core player to ensure Smith didn't just walk.
But the Mystics were willing to negotiate to make the 5-foot-11 guard happy.
A native of Ohio, Smith chose Seattle despite a significant pay cut, because she's either played with or been coached by nearly everyone involved in the organization beginning with assistant Nancy Darsch.
A faint smile crossed the coach's face when she reminisced how a recruiting visit turned into a 10-hour day, including two helpings of pot roast in Smith's Logan, Ohio, home. All that and Smith still didn't commit to play at Ohio State.
Until days later when she called Darsch to say she'd be a Buckeye.
"She's still that fiery competitor," said Darsch in comparing Smith today versus as a freshman in 1992. "She's one of the best that's ever played in my mind. She's a great blend of skill, athleticism and basketball IQ.
"We worked on her shot to make her a better basketball player, but for the most part (then), it was keeping her from being too frustrated. She has such high standards for herself and she knows what everybody else on the floor is supposed to do. There were times where she'd get frustrated with herself or the referees where she could get distracted."
Not much fazes Smith in what some call the twilight of her 13-year WNBA career.
"I have a strong personality, but I fit in," said Smith, who ranks third among the league's all-time scorers (5,760 points). "I'm not somebody who's going to cause any problems. You come in and do your job. "
She laughs at the territories marked on the team bus, taking a front seat to keep from meddling with established chemistry. She never harped about being a reserve for the first time in her career, knowing Agler is going to play her solid minutes off the bench.
And the No. 30 Smith has worn her entire pro career?
"If it was a rookie who would have asked me, the answer is 'No,' " said guard Tanisha Wright, who currently wears the number. "There's nothing they would have been able to do to get it. But because it's Katie and her stature and what she's done in the league, of course I give her all the respect in the world and if she wants the number, she can have it.
"She asked for it and I said if it was a big deal, she could have it. She said it wasn't and just took her USA Basketball number (14)."
At this stage, all that matters to Smith is winning a third WNBA championship and being around good people. She won her WNBA title with forward Swin Cash in 2006 when both played for relocated Detroit. Smith helped the Mystics nab the No. 1 seed in the postseason last summer, but Washington was swept in the opening round by Atlanta.
With the ability to play three perimeter positions and guard anyone on the floor, Smith should help the Storm move faster in transition and be more of a matchup problem. Most important, her addition should fill voids left by last season's key reserves in Svetlana Abrosimova (Russia) and Jana Vesela (Czech Republic), who have national team obligations.
Add free agent Belinda Snell's three-point shooting, and Agler may have the ingredients to defend the Storm's 2010 championship. Even if there's some minor injuries to start the journey.
"From my standpoint, it was pretty easy to do," said Agler of making the trade for Smith. "That doesn't mean the negotiations were easy. But we felt like we've got a team — a good solid core that's had some success and we lost a couple key people off the bench and we needed to give them that same support. Katie can do that in a lot of different ways."
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog