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Originally published February 25, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Page modified February 25, 2013 at 10:27 PM

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Storm's Katie Smith signs with New York Liberty

Katie Smith, 38, is latest Storm player who won't be returning.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Katie Smith is in the twilight of her career, but the light hasn't gone out, yet.

A 14-year WNBA veteran, the Storm free agent signed a one-year deal with the New York Liberty on Monday. She'll reunite with her former coach Bill Laimbeer, whom she paired with on two WNBA championship teams with the relocated Detroit Shock.

Smith mentioned last year she wanted to end her career in Seattle with coach and general manager Brian Agler. They won two titles together in the defunct American Basketball League (ABL). But it became clear after the 2012 season Smith wouldn't return.

"I still feel like I can contribute to a team," Smith told The Seattle Times last fall. "I still feel like I'm an asset and that's what I want to be. Sure, I'm not your franchise (player). I'm not here carrying everything, but we (veterans) can be pieces that can help a team win games and win championships. And that's how I feel. I still feel like I have a lot to physically give a team... to (be) whatever pieces to help them win."

The Storm has the sixth pick in the WNBA's draft in April. Agler could select UConn guard Kelly Faris or use the slot to help fill his post rotation. Centers Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and Ann Wauters (personal reasons) will not return.

"I can tell you that UConn (players) are almost always ready to play in the WNBA after they graduate," Agler told The Hartford Courant during a recent scouting trip. "They just seem to get better as they get older," Agler said.

Agler had the oldest roster in the WNBA last season but has talked of getting younger players. Seattle has made a league-record nine consecutive playoff appearances, winning the title in 2010 and 2004.

The 5-foot-11 Smith, 38, spent two seasons in Seattle, her best in 2012 when she averaged 6.7 points on 40.5 percent shooting from the field. Smith appeared in all 34 games of the Storm's injury-plagued season, averaging 2.7 assists.

She is working on a master's degree in dietetics at Ohio State University and is a player-development assistant for the Buckeye women's basketball team.

Her leadership is what Laimbeer is banking on in his first season back on the WNBA sideline.

"We were fortunate to acquire Katie," he said in a statement. "She brings leadership, toughness and a discipline for the game."

NOTE

• Jackson was named ambassador for the Australian Womensports and Recreation Association on Monday. She will advocate for women and girls to get active.

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

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