WNBA Disbands Sacramento Monarchs
The WNBA announced Tuesday that it would hold a dispersal draft of the Sacramento Monarchs players on Monday, a back-door way of telling the world that no Bay Area ownership group could be found to take over the team in time for the 2010 season.
It's a sad day for the league and for those players. The league loses one of its flagship franchises and the players will all be finding themselves new homes.
It's also sad for the Bay Area because of the makeup of the Monarchs' franchise was almost tailor-made for a move to the West, one that would have maximized the team's chances for success.
That team had Nicole Powell, the former Stanford All-American who is one of the league's most underrated star players. It had Courtney Paris, the Piedmont native who had a fabulous prep career in the Bay Area spotlight along with twin sister Ashley.
The Monarchs also had the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft, which could have well turned out to be Stanford center Jayne Appel.
Now, all will be playing elsewhere come spring.
And if the league can do what it publicly said it plans to do, which is place a franchise in the Bay Area for the 2011 season, that team will be starting over, putting together an expansion roster, likely without such fortuitous connections.
The news that the Maloofs were bailing out on the Monarchs -- after years of being the most supportive NBA owner/operators in the league -- came quickly and without a lot of warning.
There was really just a few short weeks to identify an ownership group, assure their financial security and make the arrangements necessary -- particularly with regards to a venue -- to put a WNBA team on the floor a less than six months.
The bottom line is there simply wasn't enough time.
"A number of potential investors have come forward and expressed interest in relocating the Monarchs to the Bay Area, a market that we continue to see as desirable," said WNBA President Donna Orender.
"Ultimately, we made the judgment that we would not be able to complete a transaction in time for a successful new-market launch in 2010. We will therefore focus our energy on adding a team in the Bay Area for the 2011 campaign."
The Bay Area will likely be a good WNBA market. The Monarchs would have been a perfect fit, but the timing wasn't right.
Sometimes life works that way.
All of the Monarchs players -- save for unrestricted free agents Kara Lawson, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba and Ticha Penicheiro -- will be drafted by the remaining 12 teams in reverse order of finish. Penicheiro, who has been with the Monarchs since the league's inaugural season in 1997, has indicated that she would consider retirement if the team was disbanded.
The draft order is this:
1) New York
5) San Antonio
8) Los Angeles
The next big question is whether the league is willing to expand its rosters back to 12 players to prevent further job losses among the players.
Losing the Monarchs, a team that made nine trips to the playoffs, won two conference championships and won the league title in 2005, that's already a big enough loss.