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Cappie Pondexter In a “NY State of Mind”

Cappie Pondexter In a “NY State of Mind”

Phoenix Mercury’s Cappie Pondexter initiated trade to New York

by Odeen Domingo – Mar. 30, 2010 02:31 PM
The Arizona Republic

It’s no secret the Mercury’s recent trade of star guard Cappie Pondexter to the New York Liberty was a salary-cap move.

But what may surprise most is that Pondexter initiated the trade.

“We were a little bit taken aback,” said Mercury General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale, who was reached by phone Tuesday night. “We wanted Cappie in Phoenix and to continue to have her. She’s instrumental in winning championships. But her position was she wanted to move on and do other things. And she felt that New York was the right place for her.”

The Mercury announced the three-team trade that sent Pondexter and reserve guard Kelly Mazzante to the Liberty on Tuesday. The Mercury received forward Candice Dupree, a three-time All Star, from the Chicago Sky. The Liberty sent Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld to Chicago to complete the deal.

Meyers Drysdale confirmed the trade did involve salary-cap reasons considering the WNBA’s decision to reduce the salary cap, which was $803,000 in 2009.

Pondexter is currently in Russia playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian-A Superleague. She was a major contributor to the Mercury’s two WNBA title-winning seasons in 2007 and 2009. She was named the WNBA Finals MVP in 2007, her second year in the league. Last season, Pondexter scored 19.1 points a game and averaged career highs in assists (4.2) and rebounds (5.0).

Meyers Drysdale said she couldn’t put an exact date on when Pondexter asked for the change but said it “was a process.”

“It was hard for us; anytime you have to replace a player, it’s hard,” Meyers Drysdale said. “She’s just such a terrific player and everything, but she had advised us that she wanted to go to New York and didn’t want to come back. And still, we wanted to keep her. But we also know, too, that if a player does not want to come back with us, we’re in a position where we have to look at other options. We want to continue to try and win championships and bring in good, quality players. And we think we achieved that with Candice Dupree. . . . It was a hard trade but a good trade for us.”

Dupree, a 6-foot-2 forward, led Chicago in scoring (15.7 points a game) and was second in the WNBA in total rebounds last season.

It’s likely Dupree will be inserted into the starting lineup in place of Le’coe Willingham, whom the Mercury will not re-sign.

Meyers Drysdale confirmed the team’s priority now is to re-sign unrestricted free agents Temeka Johnson, last season’s starting point guard, and forward Penny Taylor, whose mid-season addition in 2009 helped spark a championship run.

“But nobody can replace Cappie,” Meyers Drysdale said.

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