WNBA eyes expansion teams to rectify roster cuts

WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert, wants to add two teams to the league. This comes with the hope that there will be more opportunities created for players across the league and those coming up from the draft pick. With the viewership of college and professional women’s basketball increasing every season, many are optimistic expansion teams will provide a necessary positive step forward for the league.

Before the 2022 season, some players were removed from rosters. The Las Vegas Aces waived Mya Hollingshed, the No. 8 overall pick from this year’s draft, and the Minnesota Lynx cut Crystal Dangerfield, the 2020 Rookie of the Year. How does something like this happen? Unfortunately, the league has made difficult decisions about who is on the rosters with only about 144 spots, twelve teams, and only eleven to twelve players on each team. This makes the competition to be placed on a roster brutal.

“In no circumstance should we have a league where top draft picks aren’t on a roster.”

Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike

Photo courtesy of Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE/Getty Images

There has been no specific timeline discussed as of yet when we should expect to see these two teams begin their inaugural seasons, but Engelbert hopes it will be within the next few years.

“We’re transforming the economics of the league,” Engelbert said. “We want to bring new owners into the league long term. We need to find the right time to do that. We’re doing a lot of data analysis. We’ll continue to do analysis and hopefully this summer at some point we’ll be able to say more. But we want to be thoughtful about it. We don’t want to jeopardize the momentum we have, but we understand the issue about roster sizes,” Engelbert continued. “But when you’re a country the size and scale of ours and you’re only in 12 cities, growing the league is a way to do that as well. Then you open up roster spots. I don’t think it’s about rosters per team. It’s about more opportunities to play for more players to play.”

A few cities have already been mentioned as potential areas to push bringing on expansion teams such as the Bay Area, Toronto, Nashville, and Philadelphia.

This is an exciting move for the WNBA, as it will create more opportunities for women athletes and for people across the United States to support a team. If this league is ever to gain even more popularity, it needs to be allowed to expand and reach more people. As far as we can tell, the data shows people want to watch these women play basketball, and giving access to more those across the country to attend the games will benefit the WNBA, the players, the fans, and the women’s game.

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