MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has signed veteran free-agent center Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are very excited to have added another player with championship experience to our roster,” said Lynx Executive Vice President, Roger Griffith. “Taj has proven herself to be one of the more durable players to play in the WNBA over the course of her 12 seasons in the league. She will provide a physical inside presence, veteran leadership and a tough defensive mindset to our team – all which further position the Lynx to compete for the WNBA Championship in 2011.”
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McWilliams-Franklin, a six-time WNBA All-Star, joins the Lynx after spending parts of 12 WNBA seasons with five different teams, including Connecticut, Los Angeles, Washington, Detroit and most recently, New York. In 373 career games, 370 starts, the El Paso, Texas native holds career averages of 11.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocked shots in 31.4 minutes per game. The 6-2 center is entrenched in the WNBA record books, ranking 2nd all-time – 1st among all active players – in total rebounds (2,631), 7th all-time in field goals made (1,747), 7th all-time in total steals (511), 7th all-time in total blocked shots (373) and 12th all-time – 10th among all active players – in total points scored (4,456). One of the most consistent players in the WNBA over the last decade, McWilliams-Franklin has averaged over 10.0 points per game in all but two of her years in the league (2002, 2009) and has shot over 47.0 percent from the floor in all but one season (2003 – .442 percent). In 34 games, all starts, with the Liberty in 2010, McWilliams-Franklin averaged 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in leading New York to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Second among all active WNBA players in career postseason starts with 47, McWilliams-Franklin’s career includes three trips to the WNBA Finals among her eight postseason appearances. McWilliams-Franklin won a WNBA Championship in 2008 with the Detroit Shock, where she played under then Shock assistant and current Lynx head coach, Cheryl Reeve. The durable veteran holds postseason averages of 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in 32.1 minutes per game. In 2005, playing with current Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, McWilliams-Franklin averaged 15.9 points and 9.4 assists per game in leading the Connecticut Sun to within two games of a WNBA Championship.
“The signing of Taj McWilliams-Franklin is a special one for the Lynx,” said Reeve. “Taj has been one of the most versatile post players the WNBA has seen. She takes great pride in her defense, sets great screens, makes clutch shots and most importantly, she’s a great leader. I think the world of Taj as she is the ultimate professional.”
McWilliams-Franklin began her professional career in 1996 when she was drafted by the Philadelphia Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL) and competed for three seasons.
The Lynx, who own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the upcoming 2011 WNBA Draft, will tip off the team’s 13th season of basketball in the Twin Cities with its Home Opener on Sunday, June 5 at 2:30 p.m. at Target Center against the Los Angeles Sparks. Lower-level tickets are available for as little as $10 a game for the 17-game home season and can be purchased by calling 612-673-8400.