The Liberty traded Tina Charles, a veteran All-Star center, to the Washington Mystics as part of a three-team deal on Wednesday, just days before they are widely expected to select Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu with the top pick in the W.N.B.A. draft.
The Liberty received the 12th pick in this year’s W.N.B.A. draft from Washington as well as the ninth and 15th picks from Dallas. The Liberty also received Tayler Hill from the Wings and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from the Mystics. Dallas got Washington’s first-round pick in 2021 and the Liberty’s second-round pick in 2021.
“Tina Charles is a name that will forever be synonymous with New York basketball,” Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb said. “Over the past six seasons, Tina has cemented herself not only in the Liberty record books, but in the hearts of New Yorkers everywhere due to her tireless and selfless work in the community. On behalf of the New York Liberty organization I thank Tina and wish her well in Washington.”
The Liberty also received the Mystics’ second- and third-round picks next season.
On a predraft W.N.B.A. conference call on Monday, Liberty Coach Walt Hopkins said that “right now Tina is with the Liberty.” He added, “We’ll keep our options open and find a way to maximize this group.”
The Liberty now have four of the top 15 picks in Friday’s draft, including the No. 1 pick that is expected to be used on Ionescu.
The trade reunites Charles with her former coach Mike Thibault. The pair were together with the Connecticut Sun for Charles’s first four years in the league after the team drafted her No. 1 over all in 2010. She was traded to New York in 2014 on draft night and had been the cornerstone of the Liberty franchise ever since.
“We are extremely excited to bring Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics,” Thibault said. “It gives us a dynamic new weapon at both ends of the floor. Having coached Tina before in Connecticut, I know what a huge impact she can have on the game every single night.”
A New York native who has averaged 18.1 points in her career, Charles, 31, is still looking for her first W.N.B.A. championship. The Liberty signed her before trading her so that she could earn an extra $30,000; the new maximum salary in the collective bargaining agreement is $215,000. If she had been traded to Washington without first signing with the Liberty, the maximum she would have been able to earn was $185,000.
Washington is coming off the franchise’s first W.N.B.A. championship. Most of the key pieces are back for Thibault, including Elena Delle Donne, the reigning Most Valuable Player Award winner, and Emma Meesseman, who was the M.V.P. during the finals.
The Wings, who had five of the first 15 picks in the draft before the trade, had a potential roster crunch. A team can have a maximum of 15 players on its roster and Dallas would have been over that number on draft night.