In a long-expected move, the Dallas Wings have finally traded Allisha Gray, the team announced on Saturday. The veteran guard will head to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft and a 2025 first-round selection.
"I would like to thank Allisha for all she has done for our organization while wearing a Wings uniform," Wings president Greg Bibb said in a press release. "From the day we drafted her in 2017, she has been the consummate professional and teammate on and off the court. I wish her and her family all the best moving forward."
With everything now official and called into the league, let's grade the trade:
- Allisha Gray
Despite winning Rookie of the Year in 2017, Gray has always flown under the radar to some extent. Some of that is her style, which is geared towards versatility and defense rather than scoring, some of it was always playing alongside bigger names, such as Skylar Diggins-Smith, Liz Cambage and Arike Ogunbowale, and some of it was the Wings' lack of success -- last season was the first time they had won a playoff game since 2009, two relocations ago.
Her fortunes may change now that she's gotten her long-desired move away from Dallas. Gray is coming off an impressive summer, in which she averaged 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point land and providing stout perimeter defense. Save for rebounds, those were career-high marks across the board.
In Atlanta, she'll team up with reigning Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard and Aari McDonald to form an exciting young backcourt combination that possesses all sorts of athleticism and defensive potential. Gray fits right in with the Dream's culture and style, and it will be interesting to see what she can do with a little bit more responsibility on offense. At the very least she'll be able to take some of the scoring and playmaking responsibility off Howard's shoulders.
The Dream are still a few pieces away from really contending, but Gray could be the piece they need to get back to the playoffs after falling one game short last season. They did have to give up two picks to get Gray, but she's better than anyone they would have gotten at No. 3 this year -- especially in the here and now -- and by 2025 they probably hope to be good enough that the pick doesn't matter all that much. Time will tell on that, but this move makes the team better.
- 2023 No. 3 overall pick
- Dream's 2025 first-round pick
The Wings have been busy this winter. Earlier this month,and turned it into a three-teamer in which they acquired Natasha Howard and the rights to Crystal Dangerfield in exchange for Kayla Thornton and Tyasha Harris.
Now, they've continued to reshape the roster by sending out Gray in exchange for two first, including a lottery selection this year. Considering Gray only has one year left on her deal and had long been disgruntled in Dallas, getting two first is a strong return. The 2025 pick, in particular, could be quite valuable if Atlanta does not improve as much as it hopes.
For next season, though, this trade makes the team worse. This isn't a great draft class, and the Wings are unlikely to find someone as good as Gray at No. 3, especially right away. Gray was the team's third-leading scorer last season, best 3-point shooter and an All-Defensive candidate. With her and Thornton out the door, the Wings have lost the two best wing defenders from a team that finished ninth in defensive rating last season at 104.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.
The Wings still have some big decisions to make in free agency with Isabelle Harrison (unrestricted), Marina Mabrey (restricted), Teaira McCowan (restricted) and Dangerfield (reserved), and it will be interesting to see how they fill out the roster. There's still a lot of talent on board, but Gray will be a big loss.
It's interesting that the Wings chose draft picks as their return instead of another player to potentially replace Gray. Is there someone in this draft class they love? Or perhaps another free agent is lined up? We'll see. Two firsts, including one guaranteed lottery selection, for a player who was going to leave in a year, could really pay off down the line, but the Wings have to make use of those assets or this trade will be a big loss.