In part two of our anonymous survey with WNBA general managers, we delve into a range of league-wide topics including expansion, rule changes, and the potential new Collective Bargaining Agreement. We asked the league’s top basketball executives, who were granted anonymity, to provide their insights on these matters. While not all 12 general managers participated, we obtained responses from nine, offering a comprehensive look into their thoughts on the present and future of the WNBA.
The question of when the WNBA will expand beyond its current 12 markets remains uncertain. However, there was a consensus among the general managers that adding another team on the West Coast would be a favorable move for the league. (Note: This question was posed before the news broke that the Golden State Warriors are close to bringing a WNBA franchise to the Bay Area)
When asked to select one city for potential expansion, some general managers mentioned multiple cities, suggesting the importance of adding both an East Coast and West Coast team to maintain balanced conferences. Here are some cities that were mentioned:
- Bay Area:
“It would have an automatic fan base from Day 1.”
“They’re all in.”
“That city already supports women’s basketball, and the natural rivalry between Portland and Seattle would be fantastic.”
“They have the infrastructure and a passionate fan base – they have been begging for a team.”
“I find Toronto very intriguing, with the potential support from the entire Canadian population.”
“A big media market and a well-established basketball city. It would be a great location for our teams.”
In regards to roster sizes, the majority of both general managers and players expressed their desire to see rosters expand. While the two matters are not mutually exclusive, general managers believe that increasing roster sizes would be a more immediate and economically feasible option. Many GMs emphasized the need for additional roster spots to accommodate unforeseeable circumstances such as injuries or illnesses, ensuring that backup players are readily available to maintain team culture and performance.
Regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which is set to run through 2027, general managers were asked about their priorities for the next negotiations. Travel emerged as a key concern among several GMs, particularly the issue of charter flights. With a 40-game season planned for 2024 due to the Olympics, the need for more comfortable travel arrangements has become crucial. General managers emphasized the importance of prioritizing player health and safety within the next CBA.
Another area of interest for the upcoming CBA is the possibility of transitioning from a hard cap to a soft cap. This would provide teams with greater financial flexibility and facilitate trades during the regular season. Some general managers called for refinements to maternity exceptions and hardship rules, while others prioritized the visibility of the WNBA on national platforms as a means of further growth and progress.
When asked about rule changes or areas for re-evaluation ahead of the next season, the challenge rule and official reviews received the most attention. General managers expressed the need for increased challenges, suggested retaining timeouts for successful challenges, and proposed time limits for official reviews. Coaches also expressed strong opinions on these matters.
Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.