This time last year, the Dallas Wings were dealing with trade negotiations as they tried to figure out a way forward with All-WNBA center Liz Cambage. After making her return to the league in 2018, Cambage made it clear she wanted out of Dallas, and the Wings eventually traded her to the Las Vegas Aces ahead of the 2019 season.
Now, a year later, it looks like they'll be going through the process again with their star point guard, Skylar Diggins-Smith. During an interview with The Associated Press, the 29-year-old made it clear that she's done playing for the Wings, despite the fact the team controls her rights.
"I don't plan on playing in Dallas next year," Diggins-Smith said. "I'm happy to be playing in this league and I want to play."
While Diggins-Smith is technically a free agent, the Wings have already decided to make her a core player. The designation is similar to a franchise tag in the NFL and gives teams exclusive negotiating rights with the player during free agency. As such, Diggins-Smith won't be able to go out and sign a deal with another team.
"It gives us a lot of options," Wings GM Greg Bibb said in a phone call with The Associated Press. "We could negotiate a multiyear agreement to stay in Dallas, work with her on a sign-and-trade agreement to send her to another team, or we could execute the one-year core designation and she'd remain with us. If none of that gets done, we would have the opportunity to trade her on the 16th day of next season."
Despite Bibb claiming the Wings have "a lot of options," a future in which Diggins-Smith stays with the team is highly unlikely. Along with her comments to the AP, she sent a number of Tweets -- some of which have since been deleted -- earlier this offseason calling out the organization for a lack of support during her pregnancy. She missed all of last season after giving birth to her son in April.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, Diggins-Smith has played her entire career for the franchise, which moved from Tulsa to Dallas in 2016. A four-time All-Star, and three-time player on All-WNBA teams, Diggins-Smith is not only one of the best players in franchise history, but a face of the league.
Even with last season's runner-up for Rookie of the Year, Arike Ogunbowale, looking like a budding star, losing Diggins-Smith would be a huge blow for the Wings. She's good for 18 points and six assists per game, and is a marketing dream, helping sell tickets in a league where that's unfortunately a real concern.
But even more than the fact that she wants to move on, the manner in which it's happening is yet another indictment for this front office.
Former head coach Fred Williams was fired after allegedly getting into an altercation with Bibb following a loss back in 2018, and his departure played a big role in Cambage wanting to leave. Last season, after winning the title with the Washington Mystics, former Wings player Aerial Powers thanked Bibb for trading her away from the team. Now, Diggins-Smith is heading for the exit after complaints about how the team treated her.
Combine those incidents with the fact that the Wings haven't won a playoff game since they were still the Detroit Shock back in 2009, two relocations ago, and you're looking at a pretty embarrassing run. At this point they simply can't afford to mess up the next step of the Diggins-Smith situation.