- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

Washington Mystics forward DeLisha Milton-Jones wants a trade and is willing to sit out the upcoming WNBA season if she does not get one.

I wish the Mystics the best, but it’s time for a change, Milton-Jones wrote in an e-mail from Spain, where she is completing her season with Ros Casares Valencia.

The Olympian remained mum on why she’s seeking a trade, but her agent Mike Cound said she had personal issues with the team.

Because of the Olympics and personal things, she’s considering all her options, Cound said. She realizes it puts Washington in a difficult situation. Since she is not under contract, she said, ‘See what you can get for me.’

The 6-foot forward fulfilled her contract last season and has not signed a deal for this season. However, the Mystics own her rights because they designated her as a core player.

Washington general manager Linda Hargrove said she is actively shopping Milton-Jones but has found it hard to get similar value in return. Hargrove said the two-time All-Star vetoed a deal (she has that right as a core player) that would have brought the third pick — apparently from Minnesota — in the recent draft to Washington, which could have brought in Stanford’s CandiceWiggins to shore up a weakness at point guard.

Hargrove hopes Milton-Jones comes back to Washington, but she would rather have the nine-year veteran miss this season than accept less than market value.

We’re prepared to do that, Hargrove said. I am not very optimistic. Her options are either she sits out this year or plays for the Mystics or we make a deal with one of the teams she wants to go to. I don’t think there is anything there. We have exhausted all possibilities.

Milton-Jones last season averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. However, she shot career lows from the field (34.9 percent) and from behind the arc (23.9 percent).

She won a gold medal on the U.S. Olympic team in 2000 and is a strong candidate to join this summer’s team in Beijing.

Hargrove said she heard rumblings about Milton-Jones’ discontent since she arrived in Washington, but she did not think it would come to this.

A report on ESPN’s draft coverage last week said the 33-year-old didn’t want to return because she felt the Mystics couldn’t win.

She doesn’t want to leave because they can’t win. That’s not true, Cound said. There are a lot of rumors and innuendo out there that are either false or only partially true. … She’s either got to sign a multiyear contract with a team she’s not really sure of or look at other choices.’

Washington drafted Maryland’s Crystal Langhorne with the sixth pick to fill Milton-Jones’ potential void, and the rookie likely will join the starting lineup.

It is very frustrating for us, Hargrove said. It affected what we did in the draft. It affected what we did in free agency. It has kind of affected every decision we made in the offseason. … Her options are to play here or to sit out. Those are pretty much her options. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

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