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Jonquel Jones dealt to New York Liberty after trade request

Jonquel Jones #35 of the Connecticut Sun drives to the basket during the game against the Chicago Sky during Round 2 Game 3 of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs on September 4, 2022 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Connecticut Sun are sending 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones to the New York Liberty in a three-team trade also involving the Dallas Wings, the teams announced on Monday. The news had previously been reported by multiple outlets.

Jones requested the trade to the Liberty after meeting with multiple teams during the offseason, according to Rachel Galligan of Winsidr and Just Women’s Sports. In exchange for Jones, New York will send Rebecca Allen and the No. 6 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft to Connecticut and Natasha Howard to Dallas. The Wings will also receive the contract rights to Liberty guard Crystal Dangerfield and will send Kayla Thornton to New York and Tyasha Harris to Connecticut.

Jones, 29, was in the final year of her contract with the Sun. Connecticut recently hired Stephanie White as head coach after Curt Miller left the Sun in October to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Bahamian forward will join a Liberty team with a promising young core led by guard Sabrina Ionescu, who made her first All-Star team last year after New York selected her with the first overall pick in 2020. The Liberty are coming off playoff appearances in 2021 and 2022 after missing the postseason for three straight years. The original WNBA franchise hired champion coach Sandy Brondello away from the Phoenix Mercury before last season.

In 2022, Jones led the Sun to their second WNBA Finals appearance in four years after averaging a team-leading 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The four-time WNBA All-Star was named the league’s Most Improved Player in 2017 and the Sixth Player of the Year in 2018 before winning the MVP award in 2021. The 6-foot-6 forward had spent her entire career with the Sun since they acquired her draft rights from L.A. in 2016.

With Jonquel Jones off the books, the Sun plan to use the extra cap space to core forward Brionna Jones by the league deadline on Friday, according to ESPN. An unrestricted free agent, Brionna Jones will not be able to sign a contract directly with another team under the core designation. The 27-year-old was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2021 and Sixth Player of the Year in 2022.

Based on the WNBA’s free agency timeline, teams can issue qualifying offers and designate core players until Friday. Free agents can begin negotiating with teams on Jan. 21 and signing contracts on Feb. 1.

The Liberty are likely to court Seattle Storm superstar Breanna Stewart again in free agency. The trade for Jones actually freed up cap space for New York, so Stewart remains a tantalizing possibility.

Stewart met with New York brass as a free agent last year before ultimately signing a one-year, supermax deal with the Storm for Sue Bird’s final season. The two-time WNBA champion and 2018 MVP is a native of Syracuse, N.Y.

The Wings will add the veteran Howard to a young team built around Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. After making the 2022 postseason and winning their first playoff game since 2009, Dallas replaced Vickie Johnson with first-year head coach Latricia Trammell in the offseason.

The Sun return 2022 All-Star Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and DiJonai Carrington to the 2023 roster, along with Brionna Jones. The team is still searching for its first championship after falling to the Las Vegas Aces in four games in last year’s Finals.