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Sparks Get Askamp on Day of Trades

June 18, 2002|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — The Sparks' tinkering isn't over despite the 7-1 start by the 2001 WNBA champions.

Monday, the Sparks gave Miami their 2003 top draft pick in exchange for 6-foot-5 veteran center Marlies Askamp, who has played in seven games with the Sol this season.

Askamp was the Sol's all-time leader in offensive (131) and total rebounds (318). She ranks sixth all-time in the WNBA in offensive rebounds (325). Askamp has averaged 12.3 minutes, 1.8 rebounds and 1.8 points a game with the Sol this year.

She is expected to join the Sparks when they return to Los Angeles after tonight's game.

To make room for Askamp, the Sparks placed center Katryna Gaither on the injured reserve list.

"We needed another big body to take some legitimate minutes off of Lisa [Leslie]," Coach Michael Cooper said. "I think it's a great deal for us [because] we got her for virtually nothing. I don't think our draft position is going to be that great next year.

"Marlies is a veteran who knows the league. Here's an opportunity for her to possibly get a championship and extend her career. And not that we weren't big before, but we are legitimately big now."

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The Sparks weren't the only ones making a move Monday. Seattle made a trade with Houston, sending veteran guard Sonja Henning to the Comets for second-year forward Amanda Lassiter.

The Comets also sent 6-3 center Elena Shakirova to Charlotte in exchange for the Sting's third-round pick in the 2003 draft.

Seattle Coach Lin Dunn said that she had trade talks for months regarding Henning, the president of the WNBA players' union who last week caused a stir when she suggested the players might consider a strike after the season.

"We needed a young small forward, and Amanda was one of the top three forwards we thought might be available," Dunn said.

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