UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Tina Charles didn’t want to play in Connecticut anymore, so the Sun got what they could for the 2012 league MVP.
Connecticut traded Charles to New York for Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Bone and the Liberty’s first round pick in 2015 the teams announced Monday night in a blockbuster deal.
”We were told if she wasn’t traded she would sit out,” said CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Mitchell Etess.
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Connecticut vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said he and coach Anne Donovan went to Russia to chat with Charles this winter, but she made it clear she wanted a change of scenery.
”We’re not going to be held hostage by anybody,” Sienko said. ”We had to do what’s best for our organization and fan base. New York came back with a significant offer. … That’s a great trade.”
Connecticut also drafted Chiney Ogwumike with the No. 1 pick as well as taking injured Duke guard Chelsea Gray with the 11th pick, giving the Sun a very good young nucleus.
”We’re excited with the group we have,” Sienko said.
Thomas was surprised by the deal.
”I didn’t know until they put it up on the board,” the former Maryland star said. ”I’m excited to play with Chiney and know that we have a great group here.”
Charles, who is a native of New York, averaged 18.0 points and 10.1 rebounds last season.
”Tina is obviously one of the best players in the league,” New York Liberty coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer said. ”Our franchise felt we needed to add All-Star caliber players, especially with our return to Madison Square Garden, to put a competitive team on the court. With Cappie (Pondexter), Essence (Carson) and Tina, we have a sound nucleus to build a championship caliber team.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft, Charles is entering her fifth season in the league. She was the unanimous WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2010 after posting the best rookie season in WNBA history with a league-record 22 double-doubles. Charles established a WNBA record with 398 rebounds and set the rookie mark for the most boards in a game with 23. Voted the Most Valuable Player in 2012, Charles set a Connecticut Sun scoring record, averaging 18 points per game.
Bone was New York’s fifth pick in last year’s draft and averaged 6.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in her rookie season.
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