Swintayla Cash (often shortened to Swin) has accomplished a lot in her 12-year WNBA career: champion in 2003, 2006, and 2010; All-Star in 2003, 2005, 2009, and 2011; All-WNBA selection in 2003 and 2004; All-Defensive Team honoree in 2011.
And yet, twelve years removed from her 2002 debut with the Detroit Shock, Cash is embracing reality. After being traded from the Atlanta Dream to the New York Liberty on July 9, Cash understands that the end of her run is in sight.
“This, for me, is the last stop on my journey,” Cash said after her debut game with the Liberty on Friday. “It’ll be nice to finish this thing out.”
Cash has donned four different uniforms in her career thus far: Shock, Seattle Storm, Chicago Sky, and Dream. Now, she adds a fifth to the list in the Liberty.
Her newest chapter in the WNBA began on July 11. The Los Angeles Sparks came to Madison Square Garden and beat the Liberty, 68-54, but received 4 points on 2/6 shooting from Cash in 13 minutes.
“[Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer] told me that there was a possibility,” Cash said about entering the game with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. “But I just was ready.”
After the game, Laimbeer told media that he inserted Cash to better match up with Los Angeles’ versatile size.
While she has not played much in 2014 so far, Cash has set goals for the remainder of the year with the Liberty.
“My number one expectation is [that] we need to get to the playoffs,” Cash said. “And then anything happens in the playoffs. … It’s about who wants it; who want’s it more.”
The 2014 Liberty have not produced a playoff-quality season yet, though, as the team is 7-13 through their first twenty games of the season. In her move from Atlanta (a first-place team) to New York (a last-place team), Cash is fully cognizant of the added responsibilities.
“In Atlanta, after speaking with [Dream head coach Michael Cooper], it was one of those things where I wasn’t going to play a significant amount of minutes,” Cash said.
“When I was on the team,” Cash continued, speaking about her specific role on the Dream, “[it was] team chemistry, helping the younger players out … [and] playing solid defense. But we had a lot of firepower, so it was like ‘these are the small things we need you to do, because we have other people [doing those other things].’
“Whereas now, here in New York, it’s like, ‘we have certain people, but we need you to add to it. We need the ability to score, we need you to be out in transition.’ My game is transition, my game is attacking the basket and being aggressive, and so I have to get back in that mentality.
“I have to be a threat every time I’m on the floor to help offensively and defensively – whether it’s locking down people, whether it’s helping [center] Tina [Charles] or whoever else out. It’s a laundry list, but I’m excited about it and I can do it. No worries,” Cash ended with a slight grin.
Cash is no stranger to many on the Liberty’s roster, either; Laimbeer coached her for six seasons in Detroit, and Cash has played with Cappie Pondexter and Tina Charles, both current Liberty players, in the past.
“I’m very excited that she’s here,” Charles said. “She is a great vocal leader at everything that she does.”
Laimbeer coached Cash for two championships in Detroit, and he spoke glowingly of what Cash adds to the Liberty.
“We tried very aggressively at the start of the year to acquire [Cash], but were unable do it,” Laimbeer said. Laimbeer is also the general manager of the Liberty. “I think she brings a solid basketball mind, and we need that for this basketball team. Whether it’s the best player or the last player, you can’t get enough of players that know how to play basketball. And she always will put forth the effort – physically and mentally – every game and every practice.”
Overall, Swin Cash’s immediate impact may not be felt on-court as much as it will be off-court. Cash brings steady leadership to the Liberty’s locker room during a rough start to the season, and she is an all-around player Laimbeer has come to trust over the years.
“Her resume,” Charles said, “is through the roof – championships, college, pros, gold medalist, commentator. Everybody’s attentive, and everybody has a big respect level for her.”