Seattle Storm General Manager Alisha Valavanis makes her second splash in free agency today by re-signing forward Crystal Langhorne. This signing appeared likely after the Storm had designated Langhorne as their Core Player earlier this off-season. They removed the tag from Sue Bird and put it on Langhorne, all but assuring she would be back with the Storm. The Core Player designation is similar to the NFL franchise tag and it is used to keep a restricted or unrestricted free agents from signing with another team.
At this time, it is unclear on whether this is a one year or multi-year deal. This will be Langhorne's ninth year in the league and her third with Seattle. Storm Crazies will recall that Langhorne was traded from the Washington Mystics to the Seattle Storm in a somewhat controversial move on Draft Day in 2014. The trade sent the Storm's 2013 1st round draft pick, Tianna Hawkins, and the rights to the number seven overall pick in the 2014 draft, UConn point guard Bria Hartley. A lot of fans were upset that (then) General Manager and Head Coach, Brian Agler, had traded away what many believed to be Sue Bird's successor in Bria Hartley. Agler was notorious for not liking rookies and his preference to work with veterans instead of developing younger talent.
It's 2016 now, and the Storm still have not found a successor at point guard to take over for Sue Bird when she decides to call it a career. However, the trade was certainly not a bust from Seattle's perspective either. Despite losing a promising talent in Hartley, Crystal Langhorne came in as a two-time WNBA All-Star and has led the Storm in scoring and rebounding in her two seasons in Seattle. In 2014, she was tied with Camille Little as the team's top scorer with 12.9 PPG and led the team in rebounds with 7.4 RPG. In 2015, she led the team with 11.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG. Langhorne is a little undersized as a post-player at 6'2", but she has very strong post moves and a solid mid-range jump shot. Langhorne is also one of the most efficient players in the league, as she had the third best FG shooting percentage in the entire WNBA last season at 54.5%.
Coach Jenny Boucek said about Langhorne, "Crystal is one of the most proficient and efficient players in the game. She is a dynamic playmaker with a crafty and versatile skill-set. Her experience, intelligence and aptitude for high-level schemes make her a valuable leader in the post."
There has been some theories by Storm fans that the Storm may try to trade Crystal Langhorne to get another draft pick this year. Partly, because it is almost certain Breanna Stewart will be the number one overall pick and also plays the power forward position. However, it's quite possible that Valavanis and Boucek want Crystal here in Seattle to help groom Stewart as she transitions to the pro game. This is even more likely with Coach Boucek's interest in playing position-less basketball, where they have five players on the court that can play multiple positions instead of being pigeonholed into one.
Seattle may see a starting lineup of: PG - Bird, SG - Loyd, SF - Tokashiki, PF - Stewart, C - Langhorne, on the court for the season opener in May.