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Liberty acquire Natasha Howard from Seattle Storm for No. 1 pick in 2021 draft

Natasha Howard #6 of the Seattle Storm shoots

Natasha Howard #6 of the Seattle Storm shoots a three pointer during the first half of Game One of their Third Round playoff against the Minnesota Lynx at Feld Entertainment Center on September 22, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. Credit: Getty Images/Julio Aguilar

The Liberty made three trades on Wednesday, highlighted by trading the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft to the Seattle Storm for forward Natasha Howard.

In a separate sign-and-trade deal with the Storm, guard Sami Whitcomb will also be joining the Liberty in exchange for the rights to forward Stephanie Talbot.

The Liberty also sent guard Kia Nurse and forward Megan Walker to the Phoenix Mercury for the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 draft and a 2022 first-round pick.

As part of the Howard trade, the Liberty will send the 2022 first-round pick acquired from the Mercury and its own 2022 second-round pick to the Storm. The Storm ended up trading the No. 1 overall pick acquired from the Liberty to the Dallas Wings later in the day.

"We have the privilege of welcoming multiple-time WNBA champions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to Brooklyn," Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. "The magnitude of Natasha choosing to be in New York cannot be overstated. She is an All-WNBA talent who has worked for and earned everything that she has achieved, who has contributed to championship runs on multiple teams, and who will fit seamlessly into Walt Hopkins’ system."

Howard, 29, and Whitcomb, 32, were both members of the Storm’s championship team last season. Howard also won a championship with the Minnesota Lynx in 2017 and the Storm in 2018. Howard averaged 9.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season and should give the Liberty the inside presence they lacked last season, especially on defense. Howard was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2018 and had a superb 2019 season, starting in the All-Star Game, and being named to the All-WNBA first team as well as the league’s defensive player of the year.

Whitcomb, who also won a championship with the Storm in 2018, averaged 8.1 points per game last season and shot 38.1% from the three-point line. Her shooting ability should fit well in Hopkins’ system.

"Sami Whitcomb will be an instant fan favorite, not only for her elite shot making ability, but also for her tenacity and drive," Kolb said. "A two-time champion in her own right, Sami knows what it takes to win in this league, and is exactly the kind of tough, talented, culture-first player we covet in New York."

Nurse was the No. 10 overall pick by the Liberty in the 2018 draft. She averaged 11.6 points per game in her three seasons with the Liberty. She was a starter in the 2019 All-Star Game.

Walker, the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, averaged 3.3 points in 18 games as a rookie.

The Liberty also added guard/forward Betnijah Laney, who averaged 17.2 points per game last season with the Atlanta Dream, in free agency and will have guard Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft who missed most of her rookie season with an ankle injury, back in 2021.

New York Sports