Despite earning a contract extension before the end of last season, the New York Liberty waived center Kiah Stokes on Wednesday. Stokes is the second rotation player cut by the Liberty this summer after Layshia Clarendon was waived in May.
Through your time with us as a rookie to a vet, your Liberty Family thanks you for your on-court contributions, defensive presence and your unmatched off-court comedic personality, @kstokes41. Wishing you all the best for the future. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/UAKZmLdXo3
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) June 30, 2021
Stokes has had a tough 2021 campaign, scoring just 1.7 points on 1.2 field goal attempts per game in 15 minutes. She also averaged 4.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.7 blocks in nine total appearances. She arrived late from her season in Turkey and missed additional time to compete at EuroBasket.
Though Stokes showed signs of improvement under second-year head coach Walt Hopkins’ new system in 2020, she hasn’t fit as seamlessly as hoped this year. After pulling up from behind the arc in her first four seasons, she attempted 85 in 2020. This year, she’s only taken two, and more significantly, she’s struggled on the defensive end.
The Liberty are expecting the return of Natasha Howard soon, which would have all but eliminated Stokes’ minutes. The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year has been sidelined with a sprained MCL since May 26. The Liberty have won just three of 11 games since her injury.
Without Stokes, the Liberty could look to bring back center Reshanda Gray, who has appeared in six games for the team and scored 6.5 points with 3.2 rebounds in 16.2 minutes.
Jackie Powell of The Next has reported that other WNBA teams have interest in signing Stokes, and listed the Las Vegas Aces as a potential suitor. Bill Laimbeer was Stokes’ head coach in New York for three seasons.