The question of where Breanna Stewart will land in 2023 has dominated the WNBA free agency conversation.
That is due in part to her clear position as the marquee free agent in the class. But it is also by her own design. The 2018 MVP has spent the last week teasing WNBA fans and media with emoji-filled tweets, most of which seemed design to confuse.
In one post, though, she revealed her top four destinations: The Seattle Storm. The New York Liberty. The Minnesota Lynx. The Washington Mystics.
Stewart met with each of these teams to kick off the negotiating period Saturday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported. But the signing period does not start until Feb. 1, so until then, the 28-year-old forward could keep everyone in an emoji-laden limbo.
As we wait with bated breath, Just Women’s Sports asks: Which of her top four choices is the best fit for Stewart?
✈️🗳️🌊👽🔮🧸💰⏳🍪🪴— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 22, 2023
The Liberty look to be building a super team in New York. Even after trading for one former MVP in Jonquel Jones, they’re still in the running for Stewart. And there are reports that wherever Stewart goes, Courtney Vandersloot could follow.
With the addition of both Stewart and Vandersloot, the Liberty would have Sabrina Ionescu at point guard, Vandersloot also in the backcourt, and Jones and Stewart in the frontcourt. The team would also bring bench power, with Stefanie Dolson and Michaela Onyenwere adding depth.
The Liberty also have the advantage of a large market — and they’re relatively close to home for Stewart, who grew up in Syracuse. New York also would make for a shorter flight home for Stewart’s wife, Marta Xargay, who is originally from Spain.
As the team that originally drafted Stewart with the No. 1 overall pick out of UConn in 2016, there certainly are a few draws to Seattle. Not only has Stewart won two championships with the team, she also has played with fellow Storm star Jewell Loyd for her whole career.
But the Storm head into the 2023 WNBA season without Sue Bird for the first time since 2002. If Stewart could convince Vandersloot to join her in Seattle, that would help fill the void. Still, the Storm will need to retool, if not rebuild entirely, and they would need to find other pieces in order to once again contend for a championship.
🤩 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐒𝐓 🤩@breannastewart is your AP Player of the Year and AP All WNBA First Team!#TakeCover pic.twitter.com/QXbk4Wwsb0— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 16, 2022
🤩 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐒𝐓 🤩@breannastewart is your AP Player of the Year and AP All WNBA First Team!#TakeCover pic.twitter.com/QXbk4Wwsb0
The Mystics already several key pieces that could push them toward a title run. Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud provide the veteran presence, while young stars Shakira Austin and Evina Westbrook bring their own skills to the table.
Stewart would fit in well alongside Delle Donne and Austin, who has proven capable at center. Add in Cloud and Atkins and the Mystics could be a title contender. But the Mystics might struggle to find the cap space for both Stewart and Vandersloot.
The retirement of Sylvia Fowles leaves the Lynx without a cornerstone, and Stewart is one of the very few players who could fill the role left by the WNBA legend. She also would be able to link up with former UConn teammate and fellow power forward Napheesa Collier.
But of the four teams on the table for Stewart, the Lynx arguably need the most work to put themselves in title contention. The retirement of Fowles has left them without a center, and without a clear leader on defense. While Stewart and Vandersloot could help, cap space could limit Minnesota’s possibilities.