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Hargrove Extras

Some of you have brought up good questions that did indeed arise in my research and interviews, but were left out of the final article for one reason or another. Here's some of that background information that played into decisions over the past four years.

**The Johnson/Teasley trade: It's no secret that Richie Adubato liked veteran players and acquiring Teasley went along with that general theme. (The Mystics added veterans Crystal Robinson and Latasha Byears around that same time as well.) Adubato had a notoriously complex and detailed mammoth-size playbook that the team believed a veteran - Teasley spent the four previous years as the Sparks' starting point guard. Essentially to get the Sparks starting point guard they had to give up a lot, which they did (with Temeka Johnson and Murriel Page).

The decision was one that ultimately fit the direction the team, and Adubato, wanted to head in with experience. Johnson is now the Sparks' backup, averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 assists in just over 17 minutes per game over 23 games.

**Milton-Jones departure: DeLisha Milton-Jones is the only one who really knows why she demanded to leave Washington, and she hasn't been forthcoming about it. But around the league, she has a reputation for this type of thing. After all it was her demand to be traded from Los Angeles that brought her to the Mystics in the first place. Every one I talked to back when the Milton-Jones/Taj McWilliams-Franklin trade happened including both players' agent, said that Milton-Jones simply wanted what she wanted and that was out of Washington.

**Nikki Teasley's departure: Teasley's knee problems were a surprise to no one. She practically didn't practice all of 2007 and regularly walked around with basketball-size bags of ice taped to both knees. Her knees had deteriorated by the end of the 2007 season and when she became pregnant -- which made her unavailable for at least half of the 2008 season -- the Mystics released her.

Teasley signed with Atlanta this year, but didn't play a game for the Dream. I did ask Linda Hargrove if there was any effort to bring her back though. "I have been in contact with her all year," Hargrove said. "We would have loved for that to work out but it was and is going to take a lot for her to come back from the pregnancy and the knee injuries to be the player she was."

The coaching carousel:
One key lack of consistency that several league sources brought up as the lynch pin in the Mystics problems is the constant rotation of coaches. If you look at some of the most successful teams, in the East Detroit and Connecticut for example, you have two long-tenured coaches who have had the time to not only create a vision for a team but to see it to fruition. Love them or hate them the Shock are Bill Laimbeer's team, he has players that fits the mold of the team he was trying to create and they know exactly what Shock basketball is. The same goes for Mike Thibault with the Sun, he puts time in to build players up that fit his system, a prime example being Asjha Jones.

I asked Monique Currie about the effect of a coaching change on players yesterday:
"The head coach is your leader," Currie said. "That's who you look to, that's who you follow and every coach has different coaching styles, different philosophies different ways of going about things. ...You have to adjust everything that you're doing and do it the way the new coach wants it done. We're professionals and we're all able to do that but it takes time, and sometimes it's not easy to do that."

Sure the players can adapt to what different coaches want, but that doesn't make the transition easier. One set of players may not fit into another coach's philosophies though, and having the main direction of a team's on-court presence changes as rapidly as the Mystics' has certainly doesn't help.

I've asked people across the league about the Mystics all season -- why do they constantly struggle despite talented players, why the inability to get over that mid-range hump in the league -- and nearly every single one of them comes back to a central point: That over the past four years, there hasn't been a consistent idea of what Washington Mystics' basketball is. What it will take for them to find it no one's exactly sure of. To some extent that lack of an inherent concept is exactly what Sheila Johnson was talking about in her question and answer session in August about future planning, but without some consistent concept of what that future is it's hard for a team (in any sport) to find a direction.

By Katie Carrera  |  September 16, 2008; 2:36 PM ET
 
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Comments

They can start first by getting either a Director of Basketball Operations or a new GM. Either way having Linda Hargrove at the helm (she has already failed at Portland when they existed), will not bode well for the franchise. The plan falls at her feet, and there is no direction whatsoever.

Posted by: Elwood | September 16, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

FYI, there is a very gracious blog post by Jessie Kenlaw on the Mystics site today.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, Katie, I'm afraid you are being spun by the Mystics spin machine. Back when Temeka Johnson -- THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR --was traded away, we were told it was because of locker room issues. Now suddenly it's because we wanted to acquire a vet with bad knees? In accord with Coach Adubato's system? Sounds like revisionism to me. (Indeed, management had no regard for Coach Adubato's desire to keep our veteran center, Chasity Melvin. Instead, and as you reported today, they traded Chas out from under him in the middle of the season, leading to his resignation.)

As for DeLisha, who made it clear long before this season started that she would not play here again, the Mystics were in denial up until virtually the last minute, yet now we read that DMJ had a "reputation for this type of thing." If so, she should have been taken seriously and the situation handled long before the eve of the season.

All that aside, though, I think the most disturbing thing of all is to read that Sheila Johnson, a smart businesswoman in her other endeavors, had no long-term plan or vision for this team. Here's hoping she comes up with one soon, before all the fans are gone.

Posted by: Original Fan | September 16, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

@Original Fan

In reference to the Johnson trade, the logic behind that move is something that Hargrove and Adubato independently agreed upon when I spoke to them for this story.

Adubato had nothing but positive things to say about Nikki Teasley when I talked to him not long ago and stressed how her vision, as a veteran 6 foot point guard was needed to run his offense. He also called her a key to the team's success during the franchise best 18-16 season.

Posted by: Katie | September 16, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Katie, thanks for the reply. I think we are talking about two different "ends" of the transaction. I wasn't dealing with the "logic" of acquiring Teasley, but rather why the Mystics decided to trade Temeka Johnson in the first place. As it was explained to fans at the time, it wasn't that the Mystics set out to get Nikki T (or anyone else), but rather that they decided they had to trade TJ because of locker room "issues" (never fully explained; could our franchise player have been part of the problem?). My original comment on this point was simply that we had the Rookie of the Year and management apparently couldn't seem to find a way to keep her. (I can only go by what the word was to fans at the time.)

I love Nikki T and wish we'd had her here in her prime (thank you Pat Summitt for passing her over in the 2002 draft).

Posted by: Original Fan | September 17, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Why is Linda still employed with the team?

Posted by: Mystix4evr | September 17, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I also think it is a bit unfair to use Temeka's current back-up status as post-hoc justification for the trade. Temeka had a very good year after the trade, as did Nikki T. It was only after her injury, and apparent problems recovering completely, that she lost the starting job.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

It's over... Thank God almighty, we are free at last. No more metro rides into the city for as little as that. All hail--hockey season is upon us and the one DC winner is about to take the spotlight at Verzion center. Would the Mystics really like to join the winning team? No, I mean really join the WINNING team? Well, then we have a lot to do, don't we? The fish rots from the head down and there is plenty of stink to go around on this one... Granted I have spent a small fraction on the lady round-ballers compared to what I have laid out for the Caps this year, but it's the thought that bothers me most. You get what you pay for, but do you have a right to expect more? Apparently not this year. Goodbye, Linda... Hello? Hello? Hello someone who can relate to the process of player acquisition perhaps? Sheila, I really admire and respect you and hope that your words in the press lately will ring true. The Mystics and their fans deserve it. Forgive me for holding off for some postive evidence of progress before we meet again. I'll be there if you'll meet me halfway and actually demonstrate the commitment to improvement you speak of. Until then, I'll see you at the Caps games. Good luck Mystics fans... Silly me, I bought it, I expected great...

Posted by: jackshaw | September 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

It's over... Thank God almighty, we are free at last. No more metro rides into the city for as little as that. All hail--hockey season is upon us and the one DC winner is about to take the spotlight at Verzion center. Would the Mystics really like to join the winning team? No, I mean really join the WINNING team? Well, then we have a lot to do, don't we? The fish rots from the head down and there is plenty of stink to go around on this one... Granted I have spent a small fraction on the lady round-ballers compared to what I have laid out for the Caps this year, but it's the thought that bothers me most. You get what you pay for, but do you have a right to expect more? Apparently not this year. Goodbye, Linda... Hello? Hello? Hello someone who can relate to the process of player acquisition perhaps? Sheila, I really admire and respect you and hope that your words in the press lately will ring true. The Mystics and their fans deserve it. Forgive me for holding off for some postive evidence of progress before we meet again. I'll be there if you'll meet me halfway and actually demonstrate the commitment to improvement you speak of. Until then, I'll see you at the Caps games. Good luck Mystics fans... Silly me, I bought it, I expected great...

Posted by: jackshaw | September 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

It's over... Thank God almighty, we are free at last. No more metro rides into the city for as little as that. All hail--hockey season is upon us and the one DC winner is about to take the spotlight at Verzion center. Would the Mystics really like to join the winning team? No, I mean really join the WINNING team? Well, then we have a lot to do, don't we? The fish rots from the head down and there is plenty of stink to go around on this one... Granted I have spent a small fraction on the lady round-ballers compared to what I have laid out for the Caps this year, but it's the thought that bothers me most. You get what you pay for, but do you have a right to expect more? Apparently not this year. Goodbye, Linda... Hello? Hello? Hello someone who can relate to the process of player acquisition perhaps? Sheila, I really admire and respect you and hope that your words in the press lately will ring true. The Mystics and their fans deserve it. Forgive me for holding off for some postive evidence of progress before we meet again. I'll be there if you'll meet me halfway and actually demonstrate the commitment to improvement you speak of. Until then, I'll see you at the Caps games. Good luck Mystics fans... Silly me, I bought it, I expected great...

Posted by: jackshaw | September 17, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Katie, thanks for your additional comments on the Mystics' situation (and for all of your reporting this season). I think what you've given us here is the most honest assessment we've ever been given of what's going on in the Mystics front office and locker room. Obviously, sources are being circumspect with their comments, but those are still more revealing than most of what we've heard over the last 11 years.

I hope Dr. Johnson sticks with her word of wanting to build a championship team here in DC. As I and others have said many times, the first thing she needs to do is fire Hargrove. She seems like a very nice person who cares about the players, and I'm sure she as much as anyone wants to put a winning team on the floor. But she hasn't, nor has she shown that she can.

Posted by: Kande | September 18, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

HARGROVE IS OUT!

It had to be done. This is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing what else the Mystics do to improve the team.

Posted by: Kande | September 22, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

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