- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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On Friday afternoon, I chatted with San Antonio's Becky Hammon during an online radio show on which I contribute here in Kansas City. Hammon was talking about how it can be a bit worrisome to look around the league at the talent on other teams. And so she tries to avoid doing that. Instead, she said she focuses on the strengths the Silver Stars have.
But from my view, player for player, the Silver Stars' season-opening roster did not seem to measure up to the projected top teams in the WNBA. So if there was a franchise that looked as if it could take a chance on adding talent, San Antonio was it.
Then a little later in the day, the Silver Stars confirmed they had done just that, announcing that forward Chamique Holdsclaw had signed with the team. The Silver Stars released Belinda Snell to make room on the roster for Holdsclaw, who was waived by Atlanta this week after she requested a trade and didn't report to the team.
Holdsclaw, speaking to the media in San Antonio on Friday, said she played mostly "on one leg" last season for the Dream because of a knee injury and now feels fully healthy.
As I wrote earlier in the week, at this point in her career, considering all that has happened, Holdsclaw is a player for whom teams must weigh risk/reward. I don't think she would have been a very good risk for several teams. However, for San Antonio, I can see it.
In fact, the Silver Stars probably needed to take a risk in a loaded Western Conference. With Phoenix, Seattle, Los Angeles and Minnesota all appearing -- in my view -- to be more talented teams than San Antonio, the Silver Stars don't have much to lose by bringing in Holdsclaw.
To be blunt, I don't think she can really adversely affect the team because, realistically, I didn't expect the Silver Stars to be a playoff participant this season. So if they don't make it, I'm not going to look back at signing Holdsclaw as being something that hurt them.
But on the other hand, if they do make it to the postseason, almost certainly it will be because she helped out. If Holdsclaw is feeling good physically, she can still be an effective player.
As I wrote previously this week, it is difficult to project what Holdsclaw will do, how she'll adjust, if she'll be happy (or at least not too unhappy).
However, on a positive note, she's joining a team that has what I sense are some of the more welcoming, easier players in the league to get along with, including Hammon, Sophia Young and Ruth Riley. Plus, Holdsclaw will be rejoining another former Tennessee player in Michelle Snow, who was also with Atlanta last season.
Furthermore, this is a veteran squad made up mostly of players whose personalities, worth ethic and attitude are already well-formed. There are some teams with enough younger players that if someone came in and was unhappy, it could affect those players and the entire team chemistry, both this season and beyond. There's not much danger of that happening with the group that's in San Antonio.
(And I'm certainly not predicting Holdsclaw will become unhappy with the Silver Stars -- just that if she did, I wouldn't expect it to create a serious, lingering problem for the organization that could stretch past this season.)
I really want to see Holdsclaw succeed in San Antonio. I want to see her succeed, period. She has been one of the most significant players in women's basketball history. But her professional career has not been what anyone would have projected, and that's unfortunate for someone with so much talent and star power.
As I've said before, it has been -- and continues to be -- a difficult balance to write about Holdsclaw's career with what I think is fair criticism while being sensitive and empathetic to the battle with depression she has fought.
Furthermore, it is also difficult to get to the "real truth" of any organizational dispute with a player -- perhaps because the "real truth" is going to be different to each side. And because personal-life issues often play out behind the scenes.
Did the Dream not live up to promises they made to Holdsclaw? Or did she have an unrealistic view of how that organization was supposed to accommodate her? Will things be better in San Antonio just because it's a change in scenery? Or will it be more than that -- will Holdsclaw feel more comfortable with San Antonio's management and coaching staff?
That's what we'll see the next few months. She might indeed help the Silver Stars. But even if she doesn't, I don't think they will be any worse off than had they not taken the risk. So for them, it would seem worth it.
Mechelle Voepel, a regular contributor to ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://voepel.wordpress.com.
Signing Chamique Holdsclaw wouldn't have been a very good risk for several teams. However, for San Antonio, the addition seems to make sense.