The Minnesota Lynx will have the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. Cheryl Reeve, who signed a new five-year contract, is now president of basketball operations as well as head coach. Reeve (CR) recently talked to the team’s longest-tenured beat writer Charles Hallman (CH) about her new job and other pertinent topics.
CH – Explain your new job.
CR – I can be more focused on the bigger picture, because the last couple years of having the general manager [duties] during the season were really difficult.
CH – How challenging is holding a dual role in the WNBA compared to the NBA?
CR – The NBA is far more extensive in salary cap and they don’t have a hard cap. I just know that in our league it has largely been as a result of the economics of the league.
We’re mindful of revenues and expenses, whereas in men’s sports it doesn’t matter if you don’t make a profit each year. As we make our way economically and our valuation changes, which I see happening in the next five years, then maybe things will mirror a little bit more closely what happens on the NBA side.
CH – Some were wondering why it took so long for you to re-up with the Lynx organization.
CR – This process started in February. By the time we got to April, it was too close to the season for me at the time. I just tabled it for the season. I just figured that we wouldn’t be able to get something done [until] following this season.
Then I really needed to hear from Marc [Lore] and Alex [Rodriguez, the team’s incoming majority owners]. I think there was just more of an investigative period, taking stock of the whole situation. The five-year period is pretty lengthy, and I just wanted to make sure that was the right way for me.
CH – It’s been almost two years since the pandemic affected sports. How much has the WNBA recovered since fans returned in 2021?
CR – We had some momentum right before the pandemic, and then the pandemic hits. How do we still maintain this momentum that we had? [Now] there’s just a lot of excitement that you can feel, it’s palpable. And when expansion happens [in a couple of years] the price that somebody will pay for a team is going to be significant. It’s going to be very, very newsworthy.
We have a TV deal on the horizon. That should be extremely significant for our league. Just a number of really, really good signs that the economics of our league are changing drastically.
CH – WNBA prioritization kicks in this upcoming season—all players must be in training camp when it starts or May 1, whichever is later. Players with more than three years in the league will be fined for every day they miss and will be suspended for the entire season if they miss the start of the regular season. Do you see this as a problem with your club?
CR – I don’t see it to be a problem for a large percentage of [players]. I think overall it’ll be a positive.
CH – You and I are among many who strongly advocate for equitability in women’s sports, and especially in the WNBA in terms of media coverage among other things. Are you seeing progress in this area?
CR – Despite all the challenges, despite getting less than 5% of the coverage, we’re overcoming all those things. The criticism that you have is very balanced. I think as corporate sponsorships change, the way we view women in sports changes, all the money is going to come in. You’re gonna see things like [expanded] roster sizes. The number of teams will all follow from there.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.