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Washington Mystics place core tag on Elena Delle Donne

(Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics aren’t letting Elena Delle Donne go just yet.

Per the WNBA’s transactions page, the Mystics extended a core qualifying offer to the forward. It comes after a report from The Next Hoops last week that Delle Donne was going to sign with another team in the offseason.

Delle Donne is one of the league’s top free agents and has played for the Mystics since 2017. In that time, she won a WNBA championship with the team and was a four-time WNBA All-Star. But she appeared in just 53 total games of her contract after a back injury kept her limited from 2020 through the 2022 season.

Last season, she averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, although she did miss time with injuries.

The core tag doesn’t mean that Delle Donne couldn’t realistically sign with another team in the offseason, it just makes it more difficult. Under the core tag, Delle Donne has been offered a one-year, supermax contract by the Mystics. A different deal can still be negotiated with the Mystics.

Delle Donne cannot talk to other teams, unless the Mystics were to give the okay. She can still be traded by the team, although it cannot happen without her agreement.

In September of last year, both sides indicated that the decision about Delle Donne’s future with the team would not be an easy one. Delle Donne, for her part, said she still feels like she has “a lot of really good basketball left in her.”

“I think you always need to take a little bit of time to just kind of reflect and see what your next steps are going to be,” Delle Donne said.

“I just want to win. That’s truly what I care about most. It’s been my whole career, but especially coming back from all the back stuff and feeling like I’m really the strongest I’ve ever been. I’m in great shape. I feel like I have a lot more basketball to play, and I want to win.”