Seimone Augustus says she took less money to leave Lynx after negotiations soured

10:14 PM ET


CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

WNBA veteran guard Seimone Augustus said she took less money in deciding last month to sign as a free agent with the Los Angeles Sparks instead of staying with the Minnesota Lynx, with whom she’d spent 14 seasons.

Augustus acknowledged a big part of why she made the decision was disappointment with the tone of negotiations with the Lynx.

“It’s been two weeks, and I’m still [expletive] crying,” Augustus said in a lengthy Instagram video posted Tuesday. “Some part of me is still confused and a little bit frustrated. Things happen for a reason, and there’s always something good on the other side. What is it? I don’t know. The unknown is very scary for a lot of people.

“Minnesota offered more money than L.A. I just could not get over my feelings. It was never about the money. It was about the way you engage with people. Especially someone you spent so much time with.”

The Lynx did not respond to the video. A spokesman for the organization said comments from coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve and owner Glen Taylor on Feb. 20, when Augustus signed with Los Angeles, still stand.

“Since 2006, Seimone has given the Lynx franchise countless thrilling moments on the court and has had an enormous impact in our community,” Reeve said then in a statement. “Coaching Seimone Augustus was one of the greatest joys of my coaching life, and I wish her the best as she says goodbye, for now, to the Twin Cities.”

Taylor said, “I would like to thank Seimone for all the great memories she provided us and our fans while she wore the Lynx uniform. I will always cherish our time together and all that we accomplished, both on and off the floor. We wish her well in this next chapter of her career and we look forward to seeing her number in the rafters of ‪Target Center in the future.”

Augustus, who turns 36 in April, did not speak to the media when she signed with the Sparks. She has said previously that she expects 2020 to be her final season in the WNBA but hasn’t confirmed that now that she is with L.A.

Early in the video, she said “it’s business, people,” that there “wasn’t much to talk about” and that she would not go into “intricate details.” But then Augustus preceded to speak for nearly a half-hour in which she revealed how much she and her parents had been looking forward to her finishing her WNBA career with the Lynx, and that they were crushed by how things turned out.

“I’m a business; the Lynx are a business,” Augustus said. “We tried to negotiate a deal, and we just basically didn’t come to agreement on anything. It was unfortunate, and very unexpected for me. I was hoping to go back to the Lynx.

“It really shocked me and confused me. All the feeling that you all [fans] had, were the same feelings I had. The confusion, the frustration, the disappointment … everything. I understand negotiations, but it went so far left for me that I was taken back by it.”

Augustus was the No. 1 draft pick by Minnesota out LSU in 2006, and was considered the foundational player in the Lynx dynasty that won four titles and was runner-up twice between 2011-2017.

She has averaged 15.9 points per game in her career, and her 5,881 total points ranks her 11th in WNBA history. She’s also averaged 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in her career. But she’s coming off an injury-slowed 2019 season in which she played just 12 regular-season games, averaging 3.8 points, and scored six in the Lynx’s playoff game, a loss to Seattle.

Augustus said that she did not want to open the door to other WNBA teams, but felt she had no choice. She said she had never before spoken to other organizations about leaving Minnesota.

“People know not to even come talk to me, because I was going back to the Lynx,” Augustus said of previous free-agency situations. “I’m aware of what’s going on [now]: I’m an older player, in my last year or two. … I really didn’t expect a lot of teams to bite. But to my surprise, a lot of teams did. L.A. was the front-runner on the fact that it’s L.A. The sun, the weather, the beaches, the food, the atmosphere. Then you look at the roster of players … if I’m going to leave, I’m going to leave for something. If you look at the team, it’s the best possible situation. Possibly to win a championship.”

In Los Angeles, Augustus joins three other No. 1 draft picks: Candace Parker (2008), Nneka Ogwumike (2012) and Chiney Ogwumike (2014). Augustus has played with some of the Sparks players on the U.S. national team for the Olympics and World Championships. But she admitted it would feel odd at first to play with them in the WNBA, considering the battles the Lynx and Sparks have had in the WNBA in recent years.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m going there because Minnesota has pissed me off,'” Augustus said. “It took a lot of thought to go into this whole process. I told [the Sparks], ‘I’m talking to you all in hopes of getting the conversation with Minnesota on track. At the end of the day, if we figure this out with Minnesota, I’m going back to Minnesota.'”

Augustus said the Sparks understood that, but wanted her to know they were interested. When negotiations with the Lynx remained at an impasse, she decided to sign with Los Angeles.

“It was very [expletive] hard to do,” she said. “That was probably the most stressful situation I’ve dealt with.”

Augustus was a fan favorite in Minnesota both because she had been with the Lynx for so long and because she was the organization’s bright spot in the early years of her WNBA career when little else seemed very positive for the franchise.

“I waited out the rough patch to get to the dynasty, and enjoyed seeing every moment of the growth,” she said. “We went from a team that people didn’t want to [play for] to everybody was banging on the door to get to Minnesota.”

Augustus became emotional when talking about how much she loved her Lynx teammates, and also describing how her mother had planned various events in Minnesota for this summer to celebrate what they thought was going to be Augustus’ final year in the WNBA.

“She took it very hard,” Augustus said of her mother. “Because she was invested. She was like, ‘We’re going out with a bang. We’re going to let Minnesota know we’re thankful for the time you’ve spent there.’ When I saw how Mom cried about this situation … it really bothered me.”

Ultimately, though, Augustus said she couldn’t agree to re-sign with the Lynx because her heart wouldn’t allow her to do so after being disappointed by how negotiations went with Minnesota.

“It was just mainly business,” she said. “And it took me 14 years to have to experience ‘business.'”

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