all scores

Sheryl Swoopes calls for WNBA expansion as talent pool deepens

The Aces huddle before Game 5 of the 2021 WNBA semifinals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Four-time WNBA champion Sheryl Swoopes is ready to see the WNBA grow, sharing her hopes for the future of the league on the latest episode of NETLIFE with Dawn Staley.

The most significant change Swoopes has seen since her playing days and since the implementation of the 2020 CBA is in player compensation. As the league continues to grow economically and the talent pool deepens, Swoopes has her eyes on expansion.

“We all talk about wanting to make more money, needing to make more money, and I think the players deserve that,” Swoopes tells Staley. “What I would like to see would be … just adding more teams, and if you’re not going to add more teams, possibly add more roster spots.”

Expansion has been a popular topic in the WNBA in the past year, with the 12-team league limited to 144 roster spots, and often even fewer as teams try to meet salary cap requirements. Current and former players have been vocal about the need for growth, while commissioner Cathy Engelbert has been conservative when addressing the issue.

“If we can move faster on transforming the economics of the league and our 12 teams, then we’ll feel comfortable that we have the right model to bring in new teams to thrive and not just survive,” Engelbert told Just Women’s Sports in February.

Swoopes, a Naismith Hall of Famer and four-time WNBA champion, sees the WNBA’s roster limitations as becoming a more urgent problem with each passing year.

“There is so much talent coming out of college. I feel like we as fans — because I am a fan — we’re missing out on some great collegiate talent that’s going to the WNBA, and they’re not able to make the team because there is not enough roster spots,” Swoopes says.

“Being a rookie … it is tough for you to come in and beat out 11 other players, but that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough to be on a team as a rookie.”

Listen to Staley’s full conversation with Swoopes on the NETLIFE podcast.