WNBA Draft 2019 presented by State Farm is less than three weeks away, and questions continue to swirl around what the Aces will do with the number one pick. Will they draft a big? Will they draft a guard? Will they trade the pick before the draft? What about after the draft?
We don’t know.
Well, maybe we do, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy.
In the meantime, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the top five trades in Bill Laimbeer’s storied WNBA career. He has been in the middle of quite a few of them, earning the nickname “Trader Bill” from the WNBA diehards who post on the rebkell message boards.
Today we take a look at Detroit’s July 30, 2005 acquisition of Katie Smith.
July 30, 2005
Detroit Shock acquires Katie Smith
On July 30, 2005, the Detroit Shock announced that they acquired Minnesota Lynx guard Katie Smith and Minnesota’s 2006 second round draft pick in exchange for Chandi Jones, Stacey Thomas, and Detroit’s 2006 first round draft pick.
At the time, Smith was a seven-year WNBA veteran, and the all-time leading scorer in professional women’s basketball history. She was named to five consecutive WNBA All-Star Teams and won Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004.
Smith also played three seasons for the Columbus Quest in the ABL, teaming up with Head Coach Brian Agler to win both team championships awarded by the league.
Agler was her head coach early on in Minnesota as well, but they couldn’t recreate the magic of their ABL days. Agler lasted three-plus seasons with the Lynx without making the postseason. In Smith’s last two years in Minny, the team made the playoffs, but lost in the conference semifinals both times.
The Detroit team Smith joined had a variety of offensive weapons in the likes of Deanna Nolan, Cheryl Ford, Swin Cash, Ruth Riley and the recently acquired Plenette Pierson, meaning Smith no longer needed to carry the offensive load. In fact, Laimbeer moved her from shooting guard to point guard upon her arrival.
Detroit lost in the conference semifinals to the Connecticut Sun in 2005, but the following year, they finished the regular session with the second best record in the East at 23-11. Smith established career-highs in assists and free throw percentage in 2006, and was one of four players on the team to average double figures in scoring.
The Shock swept Indiana in the first round of the playoffs, and vanquished the Sun in three games to win the Eastern Conference Championship. They then went on to best the Sacramento Monarchs, three games to two, in the WNBA Finals to secure the team’s second championship. Smith averaged 17.0 points and 3.4 assists in the finals, while connecting on 11 of 26 shots (.423) from three-point range.
Detroit returned to the WNBA Finals in 2007 falling to the Phoenix Mercury in another five-game battle, but the following season, Smith and the Shock hoisted championship hardware one more time, sweeping the San Antonio Silver Stars in three straight games. Smith averaged 21.7 points in the championship series and was named Finals MVP.
Smith played five more years in the W, before turning in her high-tops for a coaches whistle. She is now the head coach of the New York Liberty, where she replaced none other than Bill Laimbeer.