Trades needed for Lynx to nab Whalen

Dan Miller

If one had never seen Lindsay Whalen give a press conference, it might have appeared Thursday that she was not at all excited about being a projected top-four pick in Saturday’s WNBA draft.

When she was asked to imagine the feeling when her name is called during the draft in New York, she exhibited her normal restrained demeanor. She paused.

“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” she said. “I don’t know how I will feel, to be honest with you.”

Whalen, Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer – male or female – might have a rise of emotions Saturday depending on how things shake out with her local professional team, the Minnesota Lynx, who are trying desperately to draft her.

On Thursday, the Lynx, who already have the seventh overall pick in the draft, traded forward Sheri Sam and center Janell Burse to the Seattle Storm for the sixth overall pick. It is likely that the Lynx will try to use some combination of trades to move themselves into a top-four spot in hopes of nabbing Whalen.

The three-time All-American’s stock rose significantly during the Gophers’ compelling Final Four run. But the Lynx are interested not only in how Whalen could help their talent, but how she could help ticket sales.

The Gophers pulled in the nation’s seventh-most fans per game with 9,866 in attendance this season. The Lynx, meanwhile, made the WNBA playoffs for the first time in franchise history and drew 7,074 per game at the Target Center last summer.

To get the No. 4 spot in the draft, the Lynx would have to work a deal in the next two days. They also might consider making a trade after Whalen is drafted. The Phoenix Mercury, Washington Mystics, Charlotte Sting and Connecticut Sun, in order of pick, have the top four spots.

As all the possible scenarios are considered, Whalen, who will be the first Minnesota women’s player to play in the WNBA, said she is just excited to play at the next level and have things slow down after the draft.

“Things have been going by really fast,” Whalen said.

Saturday, her name will likely be what quickly goes. But where she lands, nobody knows.