July 28, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota's window for another WNBA championship is still open.

That's why they worked so hard to acquire Sylvia Fowles, and that's why she wanted to play for the Lynx.

The Lynx were more than willing to part with two players and a first-round draft pick for the 29-year-old Fowles, a two-time Olympian with career averages in the league of 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The three-team trade was finalized Monday, seven months after the 6-foot-6 center first expressed interest in playing for Minnesota. Fowles didn't play during the first half of the season, forcing the Chicago Sky to try to make a deal.

''During the process it was hard. I didn't want to sit out. But for me to prove a point, that's something that you have to do,'' Fowles said Tuesday at her introductory news conference at Lynx headquarters. ''I'm not sure how long I'm going to stay in this league.''

Fowles, who will make her debut with the Lynx Wednesday against the Los Angeles Sparks, said she'd nearly given up on the possibility of finding a new team this year.

''We came so close a few times and you get your expectations up high, but after the second time and the third time I was just like, `It isn't to happen,''' Fowles said.

She added: ''I think it's like Christmas times three.''

The Sky acquired Erika De Souza from Atlanta and also gave the Lynx their second-round pick in next year's draft. The Dream received Damiris Dantas and Reshanda Gray from the Lynx and Minnesota's first-round pick next season.

With star guard Seimone Augustus, who played with Fowles in college at LSU and for Team USA, likely out until mid-August with a knee injury, acquiring an accomplished player was another way for the Lynx to stay on track toward their goal of another title. They took a league-best 12-4 record into the All-Star break. Last week, the Lynx traded injured guard Monica Wright to the Seattle Storm for guard Renee Montgomery.

''Inside the window we have, we believe that this increases our chances of experiencing more of those championships,'' Lynx executive vice president Roger Griffith said. ''As Sylvia mentioned, this is why we do this. This is what our objective is.''

The Lynx also signed forward Shae Kelley, who played her senior season at Minnesota, to a seven-day contract Tuesday. She was a final training camp cut.

The Lynx were WNBA champions in 2011 and 2013. They lost in the WNBA finals in 2012 and in the Western Conference finals last year to eventual champion Phoenix, but the Mercury are playing without star guard Diana Taurasi this season.

With the talented, determined trio of Augustus, guard Lindsay Whalen and forward Maya Moore, Fowles won't be asked to carry the team. She'll have help in the post from Rebekkah Brunson and Asjha Jones, one of five former Olympians the Lynx have now collected.

''We should get every defensive rebound with Maya, Sylvia and Brunson in there,'' coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Whalen raved about Fowles and her ability to roll off a pick and get open in the post.

''Just a really dominant force,'' Whalen said.

Defense, though, will likely be her biggest impact. Griffith said there was an extra tenacity during practice Tuesday, as Fowles got going with her new team. Chasing that championship that eluded her and Augustus at LSU (they played together on two of the Tigers' five straight Final Four teams) will provide plenty of motivation.

''"It takes some of the weight off your shoulders, too. Coming to Minnesota and seeing what they have already established, and how hungry they are to get back to the championship and win, that pretty much set everything apart,'' Fowles said.

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