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Liberty have title hopes for Jonquel Jones, Sabrina Ionescu duo

Jonquel Jones helped lead the Connecticut Sun to two WNBA Finals appearances in four years. (Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty have had their eyes on Jonquel Jones for a long time.

Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb was keen to bring the 2021 WNBA MVP to New York even before last season started, and he has the jersey to prove it.

“I’ve had a Jonquel Liberty jersey in my office for a year,” he said during her introductory press conference Friday. “I’m not kidding, because before she got cored last season (by the Connecticut Sun), I thought maybe we would make a run. I’ve literally had that in my office all year, all season.”

So this offseason, when the organization heard Jones was interested in being traded, the Liberty immediately got involved and were able to make things official.

When news of the trade became public Monday, everyone in the WNBA community was talking about it. Everyone except Jones.

The story broke on social media, but Jones was told by her agent that since it wasn’t official, she couldn’t comment on it. Still, her phone was blowing up.

“I was just sitting there scrolling and seeing stuff,” she said. “It was crazy. Everybody else is talking about it, but the person who is in the trade.”

On Friday, clad in a green suit, sitting between Kolb and coach Sandy Brondello, Jones finally was able to express her feelings about the trade. After six seasons with the Sun, the 6-foot-6 forward is ready for the next chapter.

And that chapter hopefully includes New York’s first WNBA title.

“That would be amazing,” Jones said. “Everybody knows that New York is a basketball city. People love the game. Even me just being here, I went to the grocery store and people were already talking about winning a championship. They’re really excited about it. It would mean everything to me to bring a championship here to New York.”

The franchise is willing to do whatever it takes to help Jones reach that milestone.

“We are hellbent on bringing a championship here,” Kolb said. “It’s what we’ve said since 2019, and we are going to say it every single year.”

In 2019 and 2022, Jones helped lead Connecticut to the WNBA Finals, but the Sun fell short of a championship both times. She wants to take the next step with New York.

With the Liberty, she is joining Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, on a squad that earned a playoff berth last season. The addition of Jones instantly makes them a contender for a WNBA title.

“Players like Jonquel don’t become available very often, so the idea of pairing her with Sabrina was really exciting,” Kolb said. “I think they are going to be a dynamic duo for a long time.”

Brondello is also excited about the pairing, particularly when it comes to the pick-and-roll game, an area in which Ionescu and Jones will compliment each other.

“When you have two really great players on the court, how do teams guard it? That makes it a little harder,” Brondello said. “It’s a chess game.

“The sky’s the limit for JJ, and the goal is to continue to improve her game with the players that we have here. It’s the perfect fit.”