Breanna Stewart will accept “substantially less” money from the New York Liberty in order to facilitate the creation of a superteam, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported Thursday.
The prized free agent announced her intention to join the Liberty on Wednesday, the first day of the WNBA’s free agency signing period. Star point guard Courtney Vandersloot followed Stewart’s lead Thursday, revealing her own plan to sign with New York.
Both players should command top dollar. Stewart signed a one-year supermax deal to stay with the Seattle Storm ahead of the 2022 season, and a supermax deal in 2023 would come with a $234,936 annual price tag for the Liberty. Vandersloot made $195,000 in 2022, according to Her Hoops Stats.
The Liberty also added 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun with a blockbuster trade in January, and Jones is in line to make $211,150 in 2023, according to Her Hoops Stats.
To make room on the New York roster for Vandersloot, Stewart will take a salary cut, sources told Shelburne. The details of their contracts are still being negotiated, per ESPN.
Financial details still being worked out here, but much like Vegas, the assembly of a super team underscores the challenges and limitations of the WNBA’s salary cap. The expectation, sources told ESPN, is that Breanna Stewart will take substantially less to make this work. https://t.co/PSfyqbqMkL— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 2, 2023
Financial details still being worked out here, but much like Vegas, the assembly of a super team underscores the challenges and limitations of the WNBA’s salary cap. The expectation, sources told ESPN, is that Breanna Stewart will take substantially less to make this work. https://t.co/PSfyqbqMkL
Vandersloot recently signed with Turkish club Fenerbahçe, the same club Stewart is playing for this WNBA offseason. When Vandersloot heads to Turkey later this month, fans will get a preview of their partnership ahead of the 2023 WNBA season.
The offseason contracts also should help soften the blow of any pay cut either player takes with the Liberty. International leagues often offer much cushier contracts than the WNBA; for example, Stewart earned approximately $1.5 million per year for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg in past offseasons, ESPN reported.
Stewart’s longtime Storm teammate Sue Bird, who retired after the 2022 season, said as much in January when discussing the 2018 MVP’s free agency negotiations.
“Right out of the gate money is not a player. Why? Because Stewie goes overseas, because Stewie has marketing deals that are paying her far more than her WNBA salary,” Bird said.