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Tina Charles given franchise tag by the New York Liberty

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Tina Charles isn't going anywhere.

The New York Liberty locked in their star center Monday, giving her the team's franchise tag.

"We've designated Tina as our core player, she is one of the most dominant players in the WNBA and has been an outstanding leader for our team on and off the court," Liberty coach Katie Smith said.

Whoever buys the Liberty from owner James Dolan will want the centerpiece of the organization on the books for next season. Dolan announced in November that he planned to sell the team, which he's owned since the league began in 1996. Liberty spokesman Vincent Novicki said that the "sale process is ongoing."

Charles, who is from New York, has made it clear she doesn't want to leave her hometown.

Other players that were given the franchise tag include Phoenix's DeWanna Bonner, Seattle's Crystal Langhorne, Dallas' Karima Christmas-Kelly, Indiana's Candice Dupree, Chicago's Allie Quigley and Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry.

While both Dupree and Bonner are cored, the married couple hopes to potentially play together this year. Bonner gave birth to twins in July.

"It's something that we both would like," Dupree told The Associated Press in December before her college jersey was retired at Temple. "I'll talk to my agent and see what we can do."

Top unrestricted free agents include Cappie Pondexter, Ivory Latta, Renee Montgomery and Tamera Young.

There are also talented restricted free agents on the market such as Stefanie Dolson, Kayla McBride, Alyssa Thomas and Odyssey Sims. Their current teams are allowed to match any offer they could get from another club.

Financial constraints tend to limit bidding wars - and thus player movement - in the WNBA. The league knows a more active free agency period could draw increased interest from the casual fan.

Teams can start to negotiate with their own restricted and unrestricted free agents, but deals may not be finalized until Feb. 1.

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Unrestricted Free Agents: Danielle Adams, Matee Ajavon, Alana Beard, Jessica Breland, Rebekkah Brunson, Monique Currie, Ha Eun Joo, Sandrine Gruda, Allison Hightower, Zofia Hruscakova, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Shenise Johnson, Lynetta Kizer, Latta, Camille Little, Sancho Lyttle, Alex Montgomery, Renee Montgomery, Aneka Morello, Shay Murphy, Emmeline Ndongue, Courtney Paris, Kayla Pedersen, Jia Perkins, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, Pondexter, Noelle Quinn, Jennie Simms, Shekinna Stricklen, Carolyn Swords, Diandra Tchatchouang, Kia Vaughn, Tanisha Wright, Young.

Restricted Free Agents: Kelsey Bone (Phoenix), Sydney Colson (Las Vegas), Dolson (Chicago), Amber Harris (Chicago), Bria Hartley (New York), Tianna Hawkins (Washington), Jordan Hooper (Chicago), Natasha Howard (Minnesota), McBride (Las Vegas), Theresa Plaisance (Dallas), Sims (Las Vegas), Thomas (Connecticut).

Updated January 16, 2018

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