By declaring during exit interviews at the conclusion of the 2011 season that they intended to re-sign, Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright took a lot of the drama out of their free agency. Still, both players expressed happiness about making it official Thursday, when they inked new multi-year contracts.
"Of course it's good," said Bird. "It's set in stone now and it's one less thing to think about. I've been very lucky. The Storm organization has always treated me with kindness and respect in regards to these kind of things and has made me feel wanted. Luckily for me, it's never been a stressful situation. I know that not many players can say that and I feel very fortunate that's the case."
"It was very important," Wright said of her current contract. "I think this is a point in my career where I'm not getting any younger but I'm not too old. I'm at a point where you want to maximize anything and everything that you can for your career. It was important that I get this contract done, out the way, over with and I'm happy to do that."
Phoenix Mercury Head Coach and General Manager Corey Gaines produced some nerves among Storm fans by intimating to SwishAppeal.com that the Mercury would make a run at Bird in free agency after clearing space under the cap by trading Temeka Johnson.
"Maybe a week, two weeks ago, somebody asked me, 'Is this rumor true?'" explained Bird. "I said, 'What rumor?' I'm not in the tweeting world and I didn't even know about it until somebody asking me. Other than maybe giving (Storm Head Coach and General Manager) Brian (Agler) a mini-heart attack, that was never in the cards."
In fact, Bird said she never heard from other teams.
"Nobody even called me," she joked. "I'm the least-wanted point guard in the WNBA right now!"
From Agler's perspective, after Bird gave her word that she was interested in returning, there was no need to worry or for protracted negotiations.
"When Sue said last summer she wanted to re-sign, we just talked about how long," he said. "I asked her how long she wanted to play for, we agreed on a certain amount of years, and to me the deal's done. I have the utmost trust and respect for Sue. Her word has always been gold. I had no concern."
The Storm's brass was able to finalize Wright's deal in person, as Agler and President and CEO Karen Bryant traveled to Israel early last week and got her signature. Wright appreciated having Agler and Bryant come visit and watch her play.
"It was nice," she said, "that they had a chance to get out, come to Israel, check it out and see that as well as be able to solidify this and have that all behind us."
While Bird and Wright have plenty of basketball ahead of them, they're also contemplating wrapping up their careers. Both plan to do so wearing a Storm jersey.
"I'm very happy here and I would love to finish my career here," said Bird. "I think this contract puts me in a position to do that."
"I don't think a lot of people can say they've spent their whole career with one team," said Wright. "I'm extremely blessed. It's a great feeling to be able to do. I'm happy that the organization wanted me back and we could get this done. It was very important."