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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

McCarthy: Analyzing early moves in WNBA free agency

WNBA free agency for the 2023 season officially opened Feb. 1. Several notable players have announced contracts with new teams for the upcoming season, including Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Breanna Stewart, among others.

One of the best players in the WNBA, Stewart signed this week with the New York Liberty. She is leaving the Seattle Storm after six seasons with the franchise.

Stewart won two WNBA championships in 2018 and 2020 with the Storm, and was named WNBA Finals MVP in both appearances. She was named WNBA MVP in 2018 as well. Stewart is a four-time WNBA All-Star, and led the league in scoring last season.

She will be joining Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones in New York to give the Liberty three 2022 All-WNBA awardees. The Liberty lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, but the addition of Stewart to the roster turns them into a championship contender.

Four-time WNBA All-Star Courtney Vandersloot will join the Liberty as well. Vandersloot has played for Chicago Sky since she was drafted in 2011, winning a championship with them in 2021.

The Las Vegas Aces will be the team to beat this season. They are reigning champions and have continued to strengthen their roster by adding 2022 All-WNBA First Team awardee Candace Parker.

Parker is a two-time WNBA champion and has earned numerous accolades over her 14 seasons in the league, including two MVP awards, a Finals MVP award and seven All-WNBA First Team Honors. She played for the Los Angeles Sparks for the first 12 years of her career, winning a championship in 2016. She then played for the Chicago Sky for two years, winning another title in 2021.

Parker’s move comes at the end of her two-year contract with the Sky. Now an unrestricted free agent, Parker signed a one year contract with the Aces, who won their first championship in franchise history last year with a victory over the Connecticut Sun.

With the addition of Parker to the roster, the Aces are looking for back-to-back championships. The Aces lineup already includes three 2022 WNBA All Stars in Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson. Additionally, Aces guard Chelsea Gray was awarded WNBA Finals MVP. Parker will be the fourth 2022 WNBA All-Star on the Aces’ roster this season, and all five starters are favorites to earn All-Star honors this season. Additionally, 2020 First Team All-Defensive player Alysha Clark signed with the Aces this week, further deepening their roster.

At this point in the preseason, it seems the Aces will dominate the league this year. The Liberty are shaping up to be strong competitors as well as they add new stars to their roster. However, the landscape will continue to shift over the next several weeks as other free agents sign new contracts.