Rui Machida won’t return to Mystics as team relinquishes rights originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The procedural move was made by a “mutual agreement,” according to the release.
“We really enjoyed having Rui as part of our organization last season,” general manager Mike Thibault said. “However, with the new changes in our roster, there isn’t the same opportunity here for her this coming season. This will give her the chance to see if there is a better fit for her elsewhere. We wish her the best of luck.”
Machida was brought in for her first WNBA season last year. For years, she’s impressed crowds and opponents alike for her innate passing ability and racking up high assist numbers in international play for Team Japan. Thibault and Machida both felt that 2022 was the right time to bring her in after discussing the moves for several years.
Machida was labeled as a reserve player on an entry-level deal into the league, giving the Mystics exclusive negotiating rights for the point guard. She could not sign with another team unless the Mystics gave up her rights.
Bringing in Sykes gives the team another playmaker who will cut into minutes that would be distributed to Machida on the bench. It starts getting difficult to divide playing time to a backcourt that included Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and now Sykes. That gets even more clouded if Kristi Toliver also were to join the guard group.
Sykes does not lack the confidence to score, which was expressed to Machida throughout 2022. Machida’s assist numbers were some of the best in the WNBA, averaging 2.6 assists in 12.9 minutes of game time. The 40.4 assist percentage was the third highest among eligible players, behind Cloud and Jordin Canada.
The scoring numbers, however, were not as eye-popping (or perhaps are for the opposite reasons). She only scored 65 points in 36 games, shooting just 31.0% from the field and 20.6% from three.
At the end of the season, Thibault said that for Machida to extend her WNBA career, she must 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.