Getting traded is part and parcel in sports. A pro athlete spending his or her entire career with the same franchise that drafted them out of college is rare, even in the WNBA.
“This is my third organization. Hopefully, this will be my last organization,” said sixth-year Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims.
When I first saw the 5’8” Sims play, she had all the makings of being a solid WNBA backcourt performer, with the ability to play both at the point and shooting guard. A high school National Player of the Year, she went on to star at Baylor, made Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and won the first of her two co-MVP honors with Phoenix star Britney Griner in her sophomore year (2011-12).
That season, I drove all night back home from Indianapolis in order to see Sims and Baylor, who later won the 2012 national title play the Gophers. She later scored a career-high 48 points in a game and averaged nearly 30 points her senior season.
“Kim just pushed me,” recalled Sims of her former college coach Kim Mulkey. “We were all about player development. They did a good job of pushing me and made sure I was ready for the league.”
Sims was the second overall pick in the 2014 Draft by Tulsa (now Dallas). She started 31 of 34 games her rookie season, finishing first amongst rookies in scoring, including a career-high 39 points in a contest; assists and minutes played.
She also made the All-Rookie team, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. She averaged 20 points in Tulsa’s two playoff games and led the team in scoring the following season.
When the team relocated to Dallas and was renamed the Wings in 2016, Sims scored her 1,000th career point, and was the team’s leading scorer and assists player again. But she was traded after that season to Los Angeles, where she played two seasons (2017- 2018).
There, Sims helped the Sparks win the 2016 WNBA title, where she averaged over 14 points a game in the classic five-game series against Minnesota.
Minnesota became her third WNBA team in April when the Lynx traded Alexis Jones for her — earlier in February, Sims agreed to a multi-year contract from Phoenix as a free agent, but Los Angeles matched it. A couple of months later, the veteran guard was in a Lynx uniform.
After five seasons and two teams later, and coming off a career-low eight-point scoring average last season, Sims is one of nine new faces on the 2019 Lynx. After her acquisition, Minnesota Coach/GM Cheryl Reeve told the guard that she is embarking upon her “second five years” in the league.
“We told her the first day what we need from her — we need buckets,” Reeve said. Minnesota hosts Phoenix on Thursday.
“She [Reeve] knows that it has been up and down since I’ve been in the league,” Sims noted. “I’m not saying this is a redemption year, but this is a big year for me for Cheryl to give me the opportunity to be here and play, and be myself, to get back to who I was when I first got into the league coming out of college.”
She was originally slated to be the team’s sixth woman, but Sims has been a starter this season due to team injuries. Her “second five years,” thus far, is off to a good start: She has scored in double figures in the Lynx’s three wins.
“These next five years are going to be up, not up and down,” Sims predicted. “To be honest, I’m just blessed to still have a job. Being traded is something that’s not a bad thing — it can be a good thing.”
Update 6/12: The Sparks won the WNBA Championship in 2016, not 2017 as stated in a previous version of this story.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.