8:00 PM ET, May 15, 2010
The Atlanta Dream have yet to begin the 2010 season, but they could already be facing a huge loss.Trying to accommodate Chamique Holdsclaw's trade request, the Dream enter Saturday night's season opener against the host San Antonio Silver Stars with plenty of questions of what they'll do without the six-time All-Star.Following a 4-30 inaugural season in 2008, Atlanta went 18-16 last year and earned the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite missing the final nine regular-season games and being a non-factor in the playoff series loss to Detroit due to an injured right knee, Holdsclaw was a major contributor in the Dream's first postseason appearance, averaging 13.9 points with 4.4 rebounds. But a year after coming out of retirement to join Atlanta, the 32-year-old forward requested a trade just three days before training camp started."When a player asks for a trade, something is wrong and they don't want to be here," said Dream general manager and coach Marynell Meadors. "So if they don't want to be here, then they don't need to be here. Out of respect for her, I'm trying to get her to another place."Even with Holdsclaw's future with the team in doubt, Atlanta returns 2009 rookie of the year Angel McCoughtry. The forward from Louisville led all rookies with 12.8 points and 2.2 steals per game.Atlanta selected 6-foot-5 power forward Chanel Mokango from Mississippi State with the ninth overall pick in this year's draft. Mokango averaged 10.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season."She is a shot blocker, a terrific defender and she runs the floor extremely well," Meadors told the Dreams' official website. "She's just going to continue to get better."San Antonio also decided to bolster its frontcourt in the first round, selecting 6-4 center Jayne Appel with the No. 5 pick. Appel scored 14.5 points per game with 8.6 rebounds in four seasons at Stanford.The Silver Stars, who were last in the league in rebounding last season with 30.9 per game, acquired center Michelle Snow from Atlanta in March to help fill the void of center Ann Wauters, who is taking this season off to rest.Snow averaged 9.2 points and 6.5 boards in one season in Atlanta."She's going to bring a big presence in the middle. She's going to help us on the boards," guard Becky Hammon said during Monday's media day. "This is a player that's been an All-Star before. We're expecting big things from Michelle."With the Silver Stars' backcourt depleted following the retirement of Vickie Johnson and trade of Shanna Crossley to Tulsa, first-year coach Sandy Brondello -- taking over for general manager Dan Hughes -- will need big things from Hammon in 2010.Hammon was second in the league in scoring with 19.5 points per game and fifth in the MVP voting, helping San Antonio finish 15-19 before falling to Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals. She will likely be paired with Edwidge Lawson-Wade in the backcourt.San Antonio forward Sophia Young looks for a second consecutive All-Star season after averaging a career-best 18.2 points with 6.5 rebounds.The Dream return leading scorer Iziane Castro Marques (14.4 points per game), center Erika de Souza (9.1 rebounds per game) and forward Sancho Lyttle, who posted career-high averages of 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds.