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Liberty add French star in busy day of transactions

Japan v France Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 14 Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a series of moves Wednesday afternoon, the New York Liberty signed Marine Johannès’, one of Europe’s top shooting guards and, to open a roster spot, traded Asia Durr, who is still battling the effects of long COVID. The Libs also waived point guard Crystal Dangerfield in a move likely to be reversed in the coming days.

Johannès’, a member of the French national team, played for the Liberty in 2019 before the pandemic and is returning after two years with Lyon in the Women’s Euroleague. She averaged 13.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season and 7.2 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 boards in 2019 for New York.

The Liberty tweeted out news of the moves late Wednesday afternoon...

Carrera, a 6’3” forward, was Atlanta’s No. 15 overall selection in 2021. She plays in Spain and will not be joining the Liberty this season.

AD missed the last two seasons after contracting COVID-19 early in the pandemic and suffering from the long-term effects of the disease. In her first season back, Durr put up 1.4 points and 0.4 assists per game. The Liberty tweeted out a thank you...

AD tweeted her gratitude after the trade was completed...

The release of Dangerfield is seen as procedural move, and the 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year is expected to re-sign soon. Dangerfield, a natural point guard, was signed two weeks ago and moved into the starting lineup, permitting Ionescu to play shooting guard. The move has produced dramatic results. The Liberty has won three of their last four games with Ionescu averaging 26 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game in the stretch. New York had lost seven straight before that.

The trade and re-signing were both expected. As Jackie Powell of The NEXT wrote 10 days ago, the Liberty faced “unenviable choices” with AD struggling and the prospect of Johannès’ return.

There were whisperings from both the Liberty and Johannès’ camp leading up to this season that this was an auspicious moment in time for her to make her return to the WNBA...

Every attribute that the Liberty coaching staff have assigned to their hopes for AD are things Johannès does every day. Soon, New York may be forced to decide whether it wants to continue its experiment at the opportunity cost of such a player.

The moves will also help the Liberty deal with a string of injuries. In the pregame prior to the Liberty big win over the Lynx Tuesday, coach Sandy Brondello was asked about the health of some of her injured players. She mentioned that Didi Richards has been moving in the right direction from her hamstring injury and will hopefully be back next week. Jocelyn Willoughby is expected to begin spot up shooting drills on Wednesday as she recovers from quadriceps surgery. The target date for her return is the end of June.

Myles Ehrlich, who covers the Liberty for Winsidr, suggested Wednesday that Richards indeed could be back by Friday when the Liberty plays against the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.