Playing now with 13 teams, the WNBA is getting smaller still. The league is slashing rosters from 13 to 11 players starting this upcoming season, members of both the league and Connecticut Sun front office confirmed Thursday.

Playing now with 13 teams, the WNBA is getting smaller still.

The league is slashing rosters from 13 to 11 players starting this upcoming season, members of both the league and Connecticut Sun front office confirmed Thursday.

Combined with the loss of 13 jobs after the Houston Comets folded in early December, the WNBA will feature 39 fewer roster spots this summer — a reality that will be further exacerbated by thinned training camps.

“I’m not in favor of it, but it’s one of those things that I don’t have any control over,” Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “(For example), at the end of last season, we had the luxury of having a bunch of extra point guards. Now we won’t have that luxury.”

WNBA training camps will also carry fewer players this season, further reducing the chances of unsigned or undrafted free agents to catch on with a team.

In past years, teams were allowed to carry up to 18 players at one time before reducing that number to 15 approximately midway through camp. This year, teams will start with 15, Thibault said.

“You look at every phase of every business in the country right now, including those that are making money, everybody is trying to make cuts,” the coach said. “It’s the way of life in the United States right now.

“And people can say what they want, but the reality is that teams are not yet as a general group in our league profitable,” he continued. “It’s not a profitable business. It’s improving, but it’s not profitable.”

Thibault added that if the Sun had the chance to “personally do it this way,” they wouldn’t.

Sun general manager Chris Sienko said the league’s decision revolves less around the economy as it does uniformity. In the past, some teams carried two inactive players for games — which was the maximum — while others chose not to. Now each team will have 11 active players and nothing else.

“People can read into it as much as they want to and you can say, ‘This is (because of) the economy and other issues,’ but the reality is, beyond practice … it’s holding up roster space and you’re paying that person,” Sienko said. “I can now use that money to get more of a middle-of-a-road player, pay them a little more, keep them on the roster when maybe I couldn’t do that before.

“A lot of teams are saying, ‘Hey, if we’re not going to have the use of 13 players, why keep them around?’”

The league’s salary cap of $803,000, established under last year’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, will not change. The league’s high-end players — many of whom are signed under “max” contracts — also can’t make more money past their cap limit, which is approximately $100,000.

WNBA president Donna Orender contends the league remains financially strong.

“From a business perspective, we saw increases in attendance, television ratings, sponsorships, web traffic and merchandise sales (last year),” she said. “In terms of long-term stability, this season marks the first year of our new, eight-year television deal with ESPN/ABC and the second year of a six-year CBA.  And we continue to hear from markets interested in the WNBA.”

The Sun currently have 10 players under contract: Asjha Jones, Lindsay Whalen, Tamika Whitmore, Sandrine Gruda, Amber Holt, Ketia Swanier and Erin Phillips, plus Barbara Turner, Kerri Gardin and Danielle Page, who re-signed last week.

Svetlana Abrosimova and Tamika Raymond remain unrestricted free agents, while Jamie Carey, coaching her first high school season in Colorado this winter, is a restricted free agent. Lauren Ervin, a third-round draft pick last season, is also unsigned.

Thibault has narrowed his interest in the free agent market to former MVP Lauren Jackson and All-Star Tina Thompson. The Sun are also close to signing 5-foot-9 Latvian sharp-shooter Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, who they have a verbal agreement with, Thibault said.

Norwich Bulletin