Rui Machida won’t return to Mystics, team relinquishes her rights
Rui Machida will not return to the Washington Mystics for a second season as the team announced that it would revoke her rights, making her an unrestricted free agent.
The procedural decision was made by “mutual agreement”, according to the statement.
“We really enjoyed having Rui in our organization last season,” said general manager Mike Thibault. “However, with the new changes in our roster, there is not the same opportunity here for her this coming season. It will give her the chance to see if there is a better fit for her elsewhere. We wish her good luck. “
The new change Thibault is referring to is the notable addition of Los Angeles guard Brittney Sykes.
Machida was brought in for her first WNBA season last year. For years, she has impressed crowds and opponents alike with her innate passing ability and high number of assists in international play for Team Japan. Both Thibault and Machida felt 2022 was the right time to bring her in after discussing moves for several years.
Machida was tagged as a reserve player on an entry-level league deal, giving the Mystics exclusive negotiating rights for the point guard. She couldn’t sign with another team unless the Mystics waived her rights.
Bringing in Sykes gives the team another playmaker who will cut into minutes that would be handed out to Machida on the bench. It’s starting to get tough dividing playing time between a backcourt that included Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and now Sykes. It gets even more clouded if Kristi Toliver also joins the guard group.
Sykes is not lacking in confidence to score, which was expressed at Machida throughout 2022. Machida’s assist numbers were among the best in the WNBA, averaging 2.6 assists in 12.9 minutes of playing time. The assist percentage of 40.4 was the third highest among eligible players, behind Cloud and Jordin Canada.
Related: How The Mystics Helped Rui Machida Acclimate To The WNBA
The scoring numbers, however, weren’t quite as jaw-dropping (or perhaps are for the opposite reasons). She scored just 65 points in 36 games, shooting just 31.0 percent from the field and 20.6 percent from three.
At the end of the season, Thibault said that for Machida to extend her WNBA career, she needed to be a bigger threat offensively. As the team looks to bolster the offense in their signings, it made sense to go in a different direction.