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Originally published Friday, December 31, 2010 at 10:04 PM

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Storm confident it will keep free agent Swin Cash

Free agency opens Saturday, and Storm coach Brian Agler wants to keep Swin Cash, a three-time WNBA champion, in Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

WNBA free agency opens Saturday, but don't expect forward Swin Cash, one of the league's hottest players, to be on the market.

The Storm has a couple of options to lock up three-time champion Cash, an unrestricted free agent. Coach Brian Agler, who's also the Storm's director of player personnel, can begin discussions with the player's representatives to decide if he would like to designate Cash a core player to prevent her from negotiating with other teams or whether they can agree to terms without the designation. Core players can only sign one-year deals, and Cash and the Storm intimated they want a longer contract.

"We feel confident we'll get something done," Agler said via phone from his home in Ohio. "If we don't, then a strong possibility is we'll put the core tag on Swin. She's mentioned to us that she wants to be in Seattle and I've been on record multiple times that getting her re-signed and Camille (Little) re-signed are very important to our team."

Little is a restricted free agent, meaning Seattle can match any offer made by the other 11 WNBA teams. She stated her wish to return before leaving to play in Israel.

Cash, who shot a career-best 40.7 percent from three-point range in 2010, and Little, who shot 50 percent from the field, aren't the only concerns for Agler. In addition to making decisions on core players, teams can negotiate with those they have sole rights to.

But due to Olympic-qualifying tournaments, Agler isn't optimistic that Russian guard Svetlana Abrosimova will return. Czech Republic forward Jana Vesela has already stated she'll likely miss the 2011 season because of national-team obligations.

"It's going to be real hard for her to come back," Agler said of Vesela, whom he met with at the FIBA World Championships in September. "She's told us 2011 probably won't work for her, but down the road she has interest in coming back. She enjoyed her experience. Svetlana is in the same situation.

"There's a good chance we're going to have to replace both, and we want to continue to get better. We would be making a huge mistake to think going in with the same type of team is going to be good enough next year."

Agler said he'll give rookie guard Alison Lacey a qualifying offer, but she may want to stay in her native Australia after returning for the first time in about five years to play. Aussie Abby Bishop and center Ashley Robinson also are free agents with undetermined futures.

The Storm has money under the WNBA's $852,000 salary cap to land big free agents, according to Agler. He has mentioned players such as Washington guard Katie Smith and training-camp invitee Loree Moore, but wouldn't speak specifically on Friday.

Contracts can't be signed until February. Core designations must be made by Jan. 14.

"We're talking and looking at a lot of situations right now," said Agler, who'll travel to Europe next week to scout. "The best thing we can do is zero in on two or three and try to make it happen."

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

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