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Candace Parker: What team is the best fit for her in free agency?

Parker spent 13 seasons in Los Angeles before signing with Chicago in 2021. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Candace Parker enters 2023 as a highly sought-after free agent, and the two-time WNBA MVP has shown interest in three teams: The Chicago Sky, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Las Vegas Aces.

She’s already met with the Sky (her current squad) and the Sparks (her former team), and she’ll meet with the Aces as well, per Chicago Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile. But which team is the best fit for Parker?

Chicago Sky

Chicago has been good to Candace Parker. After she signed with the Sky as a free agent in 2021, she went on to win a title for her hometown team. The 36-year-old has said many times that her retirement is close, and that means this could be her last season. Going out in her hometown is an obvious draw for the Naperville Central grad, which could give Chicago an advantage.

But Parker will also want to go out a winner, and Chicago may not be in position to do so this year. Allie Quigley is contemplating retirement, and Courtney Vandersloot, Emma Meesseman and Azura Stevens are all free agents, so there is a chance that none of those key players stay in Chicago. If coach James Wade can convince at least some of them to stick around, or if he can add comparable talent around Parker, then her chances of staying increase.

Los Angeles Sparks

Parker’s career started in Los Angeles after the Sparks drafted her first overall in 2008, and for a while it looked like she might spend her entire career with the franchise.

But after 13 seasons, then-coach Derek Fisher failed to re-sign the 2016 Finals MVP and Parker joined the Sky. The end to her time with the Sparks was messy, as Fisher also let Chelsea Gray walk, and the team found itself in a downward spiral. But now, with a new coach in Curt Miller, the possibility of bringing Parker back to LA is an intriguing one.

Miller served as an assistant for the Sparks in 2015, so the two are familiar with one another. He also expressed excitement about the possibility of bringing the free agent back to her former team during his introductory press conference. For Parker, this would be an opportunity to retire with the team that drafted her, and the chance to go out on her terms. LA also has good pieces that would compliment Parker in her hunt for another title. New additions Jasmine Thomas and Dearica Hamby, as well as established Sparks Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, make for a talented lineup.

Las Vegas Aces

If Parker heads to Vegas, the upside is obvious. The Aces are already the favorites to repeat as WNBA champions with 2022 MVP A’ja Wilson, 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, and All-Stars Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young all returning. Add in Parker and you’ve got a super team. It’s hard to imagine anyone challenging a squad with that much talent.

The downside for the Aces? The recent controversy with Hamby. The two-time Sixth Player of the Year was dealt to the Sparks over the weekend, and she raised questions about the reasoning behind the trade. Hamby is pregnant with her second child, and she claimed the Aces “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” her because of her pregnancy. The WNBA Players Association is investigating the report. Besides being a mother herself, Parker has long been an advocate for her peers in the league, and the controversy likely won’t sit well with her.