Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Liberty re-sign French star Marine Johannes after trading AD Durr to Dream to open up roster spot

After a terrible start to the season, things have been looking up for the New York Liberty in recent days. They crushed the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night to recored their third win in four games and followed that up with a number of roster moves on Wednesday that should improve the team. 

First, the Liberty agreed to trade AD Durr to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for Megan Walker and the draft rights to Raquel Carrera, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft. Walker was then immediately waived in order to create an open roster spot. 

With that open spot, the Liberty officially re-signed French star Marine Johannes to a contract for the remainder of the 2022 season. Johannes, who was never drafted, initially signed with the Liberty as a free agent in 2019 and showed plenty of promise during her first season in the WNBA. 

But due to the pandemic and commitments to the French national team, Johannes has not played in the league since then. She sat out of the bubble in 2020 and spent last summer preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, where she ultimately helped France win a bronze medal — just the second Olympic medal in the country’s history. 

Johannes, now 27, plays for Lyon in her native country and helped the team reach the Finals of the Ligue Feminine de Basketball, where they lost to Bourges. That series concluded on June 4, clearing the way for Johannes to return to the WNBA for the rest of the summer. She averaged 11.2 points and 3.1 assists per game in France this season while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point land.

A flashy playmaker who has been a staple of highlight reels wherever she goes, Johannes will give the Liberty another option to boost their backcourt. The team’s recent success has coincided with Crystal Dangerfield moving into the starting lineup, giving the team a true point guard and allowing Sabrina Ionescu to play off the ball at times. (Dangerfield was released from her hardship contract on Wednesday, but that is a procedural formality and she is expected to re-sign shortly, per Rachel Galligan of Just Women’s Sports.)

Adding Johannes, a more potent offensive threat than Dangerfield, to the mix should make things even easier for Ionescu and the Liberty. At the very least, everyone is going to have a lot of fun watching Johannes play. If you aren’t familiar with her game, this mix will give you an idea. 

As for the Dream, this is a low-risk move to potentially add some scoring. Walker, who the team picked up from the waiver wire in the offseason, had offered little in limited minutes this season. Carrera, meanwhile, may never come over to the WNBA. In return, they’ll get a look a Durr, the former No. 2 overall pick. 

Durr, who missed all of 2020 and 2021 due to complications from COVID-19, was finally cleared to play this season. They struggled mightily in her rare opportunities with the Liberty, however, averaging 1.4 points and shooting 17.6 percent from the field. 

There is no question about their talent, however. They were a dynamite scorer in college with Louisville and showed a number of flashes during their rookie season. Now, it’s about whether Durr can get back up to speed and find a rhythm after missing so much time. Perhaps a new situation and returning home to Atlanta will do the trick. At the very least, it’s worth a shot for the Dream, who have the worst offensive rating (90.4 points per 100 possessions) in the league. 

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