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Sue Bird: Why money is not biggest factor for Breanna Stewart in free agency

EVERETT, WASHINGTON - MAY 15: Sue Bird #10 and Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm look on during the first quarter against the Las Vegas Aces at Angel of the Winds Arena on May 15, 2021 in Everett, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

As WNBA free agency begins and the conversation around the destination of some key free agents heats up, Breanna Stewart’s future team remains in question.

On the most recent episode of Real Ones with Raja + Logan, Stewart’s longtime Seattle Storm teammate Sue Bird addressed her potential move. In doing so, she says that money isn’t the largest factor in Stewart’s decision making.

“Seattle currently can pay Stewie more than New York can, unless she did a sign and trade. But the money, the margin is like, 20 or 30 thousand dollars. So it’s not millions,” Stewart said on the podcast. “And so right out of the gate money is not a player. Why? Because Stewie goes overseas, because Stewie has marketing deals that are paying her far more than her WNBA salary.

“Stewie can now look at other things and New York is New York. She’s from Syracuse, which obviously is not New York City, but it makes a difference. It’s closer. Her wife is from Spain. It’s closer. She has a family now. Your priorities and what you need from a team start to shift and change because money is not the only thing at play.

“If Seattle could offer Stewie five more million than New York, I think we’re having a different conversation.”

The conversations around WNBA free agency are starting to grow, particularly as teams like New York appear to be building “Super Teams.” Just a few days ago, they traded for Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP. Reports have also indicated that both Stewart and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot would like to play together.

Bird thinks that part of the reason these potential teams are coming together is because of the nature of the women’s game.

“The interesting thing is, because we play overseas together so much we’re around a lot of different players, with a lot of downtime. And I think that’s where super teams are going to get formed,” she said, noting that players are having conversations about their contracts and where they want to play.

“I think we are going to see it more and more, just because those conversations are now happening.”

Part of the reason those conversations are happening, Bird says, is because the league is able to pay players more money. But also, the rules have changed with the most recent CBA.

“For a long time, there wasn’t enough money. The rules were set up in a way where there wasn’t a lot of movement to be had,” Bird said. “People were getting core’d like three, four, five, six times in their career, taking away all opportunity to leave if they wanted to. That has changed. A lot of the rules have changed. The money [has changed].

“Now it’s set up in a way where you can consider things like market, market size, and eyeballs. You can start to consider those things whereas before it wasn’t really a player. There was nothing to be gained whether you were in New York or Indiana, it didn’t really matter. Now it matters. Now it’s a thing.”