Atlanta Dream add Erica McCall via hardship exemption

Down to just nine players, the Dream signed McCall on Sunday

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UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT/USA - May 26, 2018: Indiana Fever forward Erica McCall (22) shoots during a WNBA basketball game between the Fever and the Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The Atlanta Dream announced their signing of forward Erica McCall on Sunday after receiving an emergency hardship exemption from the league for having less than 10 active players.

“We’re short players right now and kind of waiting on some protocols to get everybody up to speed,” Dream coach Nicki Collen said Saturday. “So no, we do not have all of our players currently.”

Sunday morning, McCall appeared on the Dream’s roster and the team announced the signing shortly after.

McCall spent the last three seasons with the Indiana Fever, who drafted her with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2017 draft. In 2019, McCall only appeared in 15 games for the Fever and averaged just 6.9 minutes per game. Indiana released her in April.

“It was just a lack of opportunity,” McCall told the Bakersfield Californian earlier this week. “We had a lot of vets that were ahead of me, and just with their years of experience, it was hard for me to get a lot of playing time. So to truly grow … getting on the court … ultimately, how you become better is through playing. I just wasn’t getting much playing time with that, so we all knew what the situation was, so I had no issues and no bad blood with Indiana at all.

“We all discussed it would be a good opportunity for me to just go see whatever options there are for me with a different team.”

McCall thought she might make another team’s training camp roster, but then the season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and training camp was up in the air. She didn’t get a call from a team early on as players began to opt out of the season, but McCall was high on Collen’s list.

When Collen learned on Friday that the Dream were down to just nine players and would be able to sign an additional player, she immediately got on the phone with McCall.

“I called her Friday night [at] about midnight here but it was nine o’clock on the west coast and said, ‘Can you get on a plane tomorrow?’” Collen said Sunday. “We basically were able to quickly turn around a flight and at least get her quarantine process started. She arrived late last night, has started testing, and once she makes it through medical protocol and has her cardiac testing, her physical and her quarantine, she’ll be able to get out on the court.”

At this point, Collen doesn’t know when the Dream will get the players who are currently inactive, so bringing in McCall — even though it will be days before she’s able to join the team for practice — is key for the team to get ready to play.

“Erica is somebody we’ve had on our board, whether it was because of an injury or something else,” Collen said. “She’s just someone that we feel like can continue to keep pace. For us, right now, it’s all about how fast can we play and really increasing our pace of play. She’s a player that plays with a ton of energy.

“She’s a player that will come in and give us whatever we ask, whether it’s to be a practice player, whether it’s to play five minutes, whether it’s to play 20 minutes. I know Erica McCall has incredible character and will play her butt off regardless of the situation. She was an obvious pickup for us.”