SUE BIRD, Seattle Storm
What’s the word, Bird? She’s running it back! UConn great Sue Bird has announced that she will be returning for her 21st season with the Seattle Storm of the WNBA. Bird, at the age of 41, will be returning in the greatest-of-all-time fashion for one last hurrah. The four-time WNBA champion, who leads the league in all-time assists sitting at 3,048, told Scott Van Pelt that she was conflicted about whether or not she should return until one moment sealed the deal. Bird reflected on what it meant to hear the cheers of the crowd saying “one more year” as she stood next to another UConn great, Diana Taurasi, last September, reminiscing on the two decades of incredible accolades they had been a part of together. Although the Storm were knocked out of Finals contention by the Phoenix Mercury in an overtime battle, Bird credited her former teammate and everything that the sport gave her, saying “it has given me every experience I could have asked for.” The 2002 first overall pick will now share the record of playing 21 years for one franchise with Dirk Nowitzki, who was the first to achieve this with the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. This makes her the only other athlete to do so fully in the 21st century. Being at the end of her career, Bird says she just enjoys being able to get a front row seat to the action and is really excited about where the league is going. Bird mentioned to Van Pelt that she enjoys watching the younger players take basketball to new heights. The WNBA season is set to tip off on May 6, where Bird will begin her farewell tour and finally get her flowers.
DIANA TAURASI, Phoenix Mercury
After welcoming a baby during the WNBA finals this past fall, Diana Taurasi is coming back for more. Although the Phoenix Mercury lost to the Chicago Sky three games to one in the championship round, the former UConn guard plans to finish out her contract that runs through 2022. Taurasi was limited to only a handful of games last season, as she was dealing with a left ankle injury. At times, her efficiency was questioned, but at the age of 39, to be performing at a consistent rate is an accomplishment in itself. That being said, she was still able to average 15.2 points per game played and 4.9 assists. Taurasi has had a great hand in advancing the WNBA in many ways and with a supporting cast of Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner, it would not be a surprise to see them back in the playoffs. The Mercury will face the Las Vegas Aces in its home opener in the beginning of May.
ANDRE DRUMMOND, Brooklyn Nets
After the recent trade deadline that shook up the Eastern Conference, Drummond is looking to find his groove with the Nets. Only after a small stint with the Nets before the All-Star break hit, there were already positive signs that this was a strong trade. Players and fans alike are excited about Drummond’s performance and what he brings to the table. Kevin Durant expressed his excitement of the new additions, as he mentioned how “veterans in the game who understand how to play” will mix well. The Nets’ performance in February is very likely one they would prefer to forget, as they posted a 2-8 record before the All-Star break. Since they are looking to get back to their old ways in the post, the presence of Drummond on the offensive and defensive boards will be a key factor when facing bigger teams. Drummond was 3-for-8 in field goals during 19 minutes of play and notched nine rebounds in a loss to the Washington Wizards last week. The Nets return to action at the Barclays Center on Thursday night against the Boston Celtics for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
JEREMY LAMB, Sacramento Kings
Jeremy Lamb, who was traded from the Indiana Pacers (20-40) to the Sacramento Kings (22-38) during the recent trade deadline, viewed the trade as a fresh start as he sat in front of the media during his introductory press conference. Lamb reiterated that “it’s always good to go somewhere where you [have] guys around you that work hard and play together.” Although he has only played one game for the Kings due to an ankle injury, he expressed how it was nice to have familiar faces join the team with him. This trade has been different from other trades for lamb because he does not have to acclimate to a new team alone. Lamb was part of a three player trade to Sacramento that included both Domantas Sabonis and Justin Holiday. “Just having them with me while meeting new guys and meeting the new coach is very encouraging,” Lamb mentioned to reporters. As the second half of the NBA season gets underway later, the return of Lamb will be an anticipated one as the Kings look to gain some sense of identity even while sitting at No. 13 in the Western Conference.