Connecticut Sun use core tag on top free agent Brionna Jones

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(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Connecticut Sun have tagged top free agent Brionna Jones with a core designation, which keeps her under team control for another season, per Rachel Galligan of Winsidr and Just Women’s Sports.

Each WNBA team can designate one of their unrestricted free agent as a core player, which gives the team exclusive negotiating rights with that player. The distinction comes with a guaranteed one-year qualifying offer of $234,936, the highest possible salary — also known as the supermax salary.

Jones could choose to sign that supermax offer, or she could negotiate a longer deal with Connecticut.

If she does not want to play for the Sun, the team could trade her, and she would have the right to approve any trade before signing her new contract. For example, the Dallas Wings used the core designation for Skylar Diggins-Smith ahead of the 2020 season, but she did not want to return to the team. So the Wings dealt her to the Phoenix Mercury.

With the core tag for Jones, the Sun made just their latest move of the offseason. Connecticut traded Jonquel Jones to the New York Liberty on Monday as part of a three-team deal; the 2021 MVP requested the trade, Galligan reported.

While the loss of Jonquel Jones might sting, Brionna Jones could step up in her place. The 27-year-old post averaged 13.8 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench for Connecticut en route to a WNBA Finals appearance in 2022. The reigning Sixth Player of the Year, Jones led the league in offensive rebound percentage last season, and the Sun must want to know what she can do in the starting lineup.

Friday marks the final day for teams to extend qualifying offers and designate core players. The negotiating period for free agents opens Jan. 21. Players can sign contracts starting on Feb. 1.