What the Candice Dupree signing means for Seattle

Dupree can make an impact in 2021 for the Storm

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Candice Dupree #4 of the Indiana Fever fights for position against the Seattle Storm on August 20, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via GettyImages)

With the departure of Alysha Clark and the retirement of Crystal Langhorne, it may have appeared the Seattle Storm were headed for a youth movement.

Guess again.

On Monday, Seattle announced the signing of 15-year WNBA veteran and seven-time all-star Candice Dupree. The Next has learned the deal is one year, $170,000, full protection.

“Candice brings championship experience and has been an impact player in the WNBA during her entire career,” Storm CEO and General Manager Alisha Valavanis said. “We are excited to welcome Candice to Storm basketball.”

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to have to have an opportunity to play for the Seattle Storm,” Dupree said. “To be 15 years in and have an opportunity to play for a contender and compete for a back to back championship is awesome. I look forward to playing alongside some of the best in the game and bringing another championship back to the great city of Seattle.”

Dupree, 36 years old, averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game while converting 46 percent of her shot attempts with Indiana in 2020. The veteran forward/center appeared in all 22 of the Fever’s games and did so while playing 30 minutes per contest.

The Storm reached out to Dupree’s agent last week and came to terms by last Friday. Dupree enjoyed the luxury of getting to essentially pick her next destination. She made it clear that she was looking to win and was not interested in another rebuilding situation. Though she wouldn’t name names, the Storm were competing with a few other teams for the veteran’s services.

Aside from winning, Dupree found the roster’s high basketball I.Q. and style of play appealing when choosing a destination. If Dupree wanted a contender with available minutes for her, Seattle was a good choice.

What can the Storm expect from Dupree in 2021?

Aside from her steady production, Dupree is not here to fill Langhorne’s bench role last season. She will play, from the sounds of it. From her negotiations with the Storm, the team envisioned her playing alongside Breanna Stewart in some capacity.

According to Dupree, coach Dan Hughes never specified whether her playing the four would bump Stewart to center or small forward. The ultimate answer probably depends on the team’s final roster construction as much as the night-to-night matchup.

The Storm also envision Dupree taking on a mentoring role with 2020 WNBA rookie, Ezi Magbegor. However, from what Dupree says, it sounds like she hasn’t communicated with Magbegor yet.

A rotation of Stewart, Dupree, Magbegor, and Mercedes Russell is a solid start. Wait, what about…

Is that an elephant in the room?

What is odd about the Dupree signing is that we don’t know what is happening with Natasha Howard. Yes, the Storm have her exclusive negotiating rights after coring her but things have been quiet publicly. Coring a player also doesn’t preclude a team from trading their negotiating rights.

Sue Bird also hasn’t re-signed but she has at least given the Storm a verbal commitment. Howard, as far as we know, has not done the same.

Dupree also said the money in Seattle’s offer was “pretty good.” Obviously, a player like Dupree is not a long-term solution at this point, but the Storm do not have an abundance of cap room. It’s clear from having Bird sign her deal after the dust settles to preserve their space that the Storm are strategic with their decisions.

It seems that either 1) the Storm know Howard is back and fortified their frontcourt with Dupree; or 2) they don’t think Howard is returning and they needed a stop-gap upfront. Either way, it’s likely the Storm already have an idea what will play out with Howard.

Maybe this is not an elephant in the room, but the longer we go without hearing about Howard, the more the situation begins to look like one.

Making the most of their window

The Storm have one of the greatest players in Stewart and a tremendous supporting cast for her. While the WNBA is going to have some serious contenders in 2021, the Storm’s talent keeps them in the mix.

Given Seattle’s championship window is still open and Dupree is a still-productive player looking to go out with a bang, this seems like a good match.

Howard Megdal contributed reporting to this story.