Liberty acquire Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb via trades

Nurse and Walker Traded to Phoenix, Talbot and 2021 No. 1 Pick to Seattle
The New York Liberty has acquired three-time WNBA champion Natasha Howard.|Art or Photo Credit: AP

The New York Liberty announced that the team has acquired three-time WNBA Champion Natasha Howard and two-time champion Sami Whitcomb from the Seattle Storm in separate trade transactions. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Three trades in total were executed between three teams to bring Howard and Whitcomb to the Big Apple.

  • Liberty acquired the sixth overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft and a 2022 first-round pick from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for guard Kia Nurse and forward Megan Walker.
  • New York sent its 2021 No.1 overall pick, 2022 first-round pick acquired in the Mercury trade and its own 2022 second-round pick to the Seattle Storm in exchange for forward Natasha Howard (via sign-and-trade).
  • Liberty acquired guard Sami Whitcomb from Seattle via sign-and-trade in exchange for the rights to forward Stephanie Talbot.

“We have the privilege of welcoming multiple-time WNBA champions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to Brooklyn,” said general manager Jonathan Kolb. “The magnitude of Natasha choosing to be in New York cannot be overstated. She is an All-WNBA talent who has worked for and earned everything that she has achieved, who has contributed to championship runs on multiple teams, and who will fit seamlessly into Walt Hopkins’ system.”

The WNBA’s 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, Natasha Howard (29) is a 6-foot-2 forward who is entering her eighth WNBA season. Howard was drafted by the Indiana Fever in 2014 where she spent two seasons, followed by two years with the Minnesota Lynx. Howard won her first WNBA Championship (2017) alongside Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins in Minnesota. During her three-year tenure with the Seattle Storm, Howard secured two additional WNBA Championships (2018, 2020).

“I am very excited to be a part of the New York Liberty organization,” said Howard. “I’m also excited to meet my new teammates and the fans. I’m so pumped about the 2021 season.”

In the 2020 championship season, Howard averaged 9.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53.0 percent from the field during the regular season. The Toledo, Ohio, native has garnered several awards including:

  • 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player
  • 2019 WNBA All-Star starting selection
  • 2019 All-WNBA First Team honors
  • 2019 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Whitcomb (32), a 5-10 guard, joins the Liberty after a four-year tenure in Seattle where she helped the Storm to two WNBA titles. In Seattle’s 2020 championship season, Whitcomb averaged 8.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 38.1 percent from three, 44.3 percent from the field and 100 percent at the free throw line (22-22). The Ventura, California, native signed as a free agent with the Storm in 2017 after competing professionally overseas for several seasons, most notably in Australia’s WNBL.

“I’m really looking forward to this new opportunity to play alongside this talented group they’re putting together,” said Whitcomb. “I’m excited to be a part of this organization’s next chapter under Walt and his staff as they grow this new culture. Can’t wait to get to New York!”

Kolb added, “Sami Whitcomb will be an instant fan favorite, not only for her elite shot-making ability, but also for her tenacity and drive. A two-time champion in her own right, Sami knows what it takes to win in this league, and is exactly the kind of tough, talented, culture-first player we covet in New York.”

Nurse, the Liberty’s 10th overall selection in the 2018 WNBA Draft, averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game over 89 contests (59 starts) during her three-year tenure with New York. Kia was voted a starter in the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game, and led the Liberty in points per game over the past two seasons.

Walker, New York’s ninth overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, saw action in 18 games during her rookie campaign. She averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

“I would like to thank Kia Nurse and Megan Walker for their contributions to our organization,” added Kolb. “The unfortunate part of transactions such as these is that you have to say goodbye to people who have contributed to the team in so many ways.

Kia shone particularly brightly in New York, becoming an All-Star in just her second season in the league. Megan’s rookie season was undoubtedly stunted by a preseason COVID diagnosis, but I have no doubt that she will return to top form in the coming years, and that both players will continue to flourish in Phoenix.”

Talbot, who the Liberty acquired via trade during the 2020 WNBA Draft from the Minnesota Lynx, opted out of the 2020 season with New York. In 2019, her third WNBA season and first with Minnesota, the Australia-native averaged 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds over 33 games. Talbot was recently named the WNBL’s 2020 Most Valuable Player.

The New York Liberty currently hold overall picks six, 25 and 29 in the 2021 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm®. The WNBA has not yet announced a date for the event.