Mystics

Tough job market for 2020 class: Mystics waive draft picks Jaylyn Agnew and Sug Sutton

Tough job market for 2020 class: Mystics waive draft picks Jaylyn Agnew and Sug Sutton

The Washington Mystics have waived both of their 2020 WNBA draft picks, Jaylyn Agnew and Sug Sutton. 

Agnew out of Creighton was selected 24th overall with the team's second-round pick. Sutton, a Texas alumna was 36th overall in the third-round. Washington did not hold a first-round pick after trading it for former WNBA MVP Tina Charles. 

Their releases bring the Mystics' roster to 11 players, the league minimum. While the WNBA allows teams to hold up to 12 players, the team was under cap constraints by resigning Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman this offseason. 

Washington was already over the salary cap before obtaining the salaries of both draftees, according to Spotrac. Now, the team is only $28,400 over which is a more than manageable figure entering a season.

It was sure to be a test for either of the two picks to break onto the Mystics' roster. Not only did Washington retain a majority of their championship core from 2019, but the team also reloaded with Leilani Mitchell and the addition of Charles. 

Head coach Mike Thibault said after the draft that he challenged both Agnew and Sutton to take a roster spot from a veteran. Agnew providing a 3-point threat from the wing and Agnew giving depth to an important positional group: point guard. Without physical practices due to the coronavirus pandemic, that surely made the task to nab a spot from a veteran more difficult. 

Agnew and Sutton are now free to sign with any other team. 

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Natasha Cloud shares her harrowing experience after getting pulled over by police

Natasha Cloud shares her harrowing experience after getting pulled over by police

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the first part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America this week. Natasha Cloud, Mike Locksley, and Ian Mahinmi joined Chis Miller for the first of these roundtable discussions to share their experiences, thoughts and how they’re using their platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud is one of the many faces of the Black Lives Matter movement within Washington D.C. sports.

She's vocal on issues more than just race relations and police brutality. She is constantly out in the D.C. community, fighting for reform. She's so passionate about her cause, Cloud is opting-out of the 2020 season to continue the momentum gained in the BLM movement over the past month.
 
And just like several other Black Americans, she has her own harrowing story of how she had to deescalate a simple traffic stop with the police merely a block from her home. 

"I've been pulled over in D.C. before," Cloud said during NBC Sports Washington's recent Race in America roundtable. "It happened right before this last season. A white man, a white cop, approached me at 1:30 a.m. in the morning, coming home from shooting at Entertainment and Sports Arena. ... I'm by myself, in my car, driving home to my apartment and he approaches my car with his hand over his gun. The latch was already undone and I hadn't been doing anything but driving myself home from shooting. Because I'm in a nice car, because my side windows are tinted, he approached me aggressively and in the wrong manner. The ticket I got was a window tint, but that window tint could have been my life if I hadn't deescalated the issue."

RACE IN AMERICA: WATCH THE FULL ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION HERE

To ensure that she was able to get out of the situation safely, Cloud believed she was the one that had to remove the tension.

The officer kept looking in the back windows to see what was in the back seat. Cloud told the officer everything she was doing. When she was reaching to roll down the windows for him, even after he asked her to do so, she asked for permission.
 
Cloud said she asked twice if she could reach for her license and registration. Both times she told the police officer where exactly it was and where she was reaching.

"For me, I've always been taught, even though I grew up in an all-white family, my mom has made sure to tell me to put my hands at ten and two. Put your hands where you can see them. You say yes sir, you say no ma'am, be respectful," Cloud said.
 
But when the traffic stop was over, Cloud's work was not done. She made sure that she went to court, knowing that her window tints were too dark, but also to say her side of the story. Cloud felt the cop needed to be held accountable for how he approached the situation.
 
"I was lucky to have a minority judge, who also happened to be female and she ripped him a new [expletive] when I was in that courtroom."

RELATED: WHY CLOUD IS FOREGOING THE 2020 WNBA SEASON

This is part of the societal change that Cloud is continuously advocating. Police should not feel the need to further amplify a nonviolent situation and they should also be held accountable when they make a bad decision.
 
"We understand that not every cop is a bad cop," Cloud said. "There is a lot of good cops out there as well and there is more good cops than there is bad cops. But not every black person is a thug or a criminal and so you can't approach every black person as a threat. And I feel that is the No. 1 issue with [Black people's] interaction with police is that we're immediately seen as a threat. That [Black individuals are] immediately in defense mode because of the color of our skin. And that immediately escalates the situation even though it doesn't need to be escalated."

To watch the full roundtable discussion, featuring Natasha Cloud, Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley and Washington Wizards star Ian Mahinmi, click here.

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Converse will pay Natasha Cloud her forfeited WNBA salary by opting-out of 2020 season

Converse will pay Natasha Cloud her forfeited WNBA salary by opting-out of 2020 season

By sitting out the 2020 WNBA season to focus on fighting for social reform, Natasha Cloud has forfeited her salary for the season.

Her new shoe sponsor, Converse, will cover those lost wages and pay the Washington Mystics star the entirety of her forfeited 2020 salary, Converse told NBC Sports Washington. 

"Converse is so amazing. I knew immediately when I signed with them that this was a family atmosphere and that they cared about me. Not only what I do on the court, but I who I am off the court" Cloud told ABC News. "I wasn't expecting it, I knew the financial burden that I was taking on. My Converse family understands this is bigger than basketball and they want to support me in any facet and they wanted to make sure that me and family are okay during this time. It's huge."

Cloud announced her intent to opt-out of the newly constructed 2020 WNBA season last week. While the WNBA is allowing its players to not play this year without penalty, Cloud does not fall into a group that can still receive pay. Only players with medical conditions that make them more 'at-risk' to severe complications of the coronavirus can still be paid. 

RELATED: CLOUD'S OPT-OUT SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE

Converse released the following statement to pay Cloud's salary.

Converse has immense respect for Natasha Cloud’s decision to forgo the WNBA season. These systemic racial justice issues are bigger than basketball. To be able to put her career and passion on hold in order to devote her energy, voice and platform to change demonstrates her integrity and strength. We are proud to have her on the Converse team, are humbled to match her forfeited players salary and look forward to working together with Natasha on these issues as well as supporting her vision in this space. 

Cloud's contract for the 2020 season is worth $117,000, according to Spotrac. Converse is offering to pay a majority of that, as the WNBA sent out some checks at the start of the league year.

“There are a lot of factors that led to this decision (to opt-out), but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete," Cloud said in a statement. "I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight for social reform, because until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”

In early June, Cloud became the first WNBA player to sign with Converse. Not only did the company sign Cloud for her play on the court - a 2019 WNBA Champion and the Mystics' all-time leader in assists - but for not being afraid to take a stance and inspire change. 

Cloud originally postponed the announcement due to the death of George Floyd. She was a huge leader in organizing D.C.'s Juneteenth march and has continued to stay in the local conversation about race.

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