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WNBA 2022 free agency primer: What to know as the action unfolds

Sue Bird (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

WNBA free agency is upon us, with teams extending qualifying offers to 2022 reserved free agents as of Jan. 1. As the activity heats up, we made a cheat sheet to get you ready for what should be an eventful free agency period.

A reserved free agent is any player who is out of a contract and has been in the WNBA for three years or fewer. These players can negotiate only with their previous team. Teams have until Jan. 14 to extend qualifying offers to reserved players.

Any player with four years of service in the WNBA is considered a restricted free agent. These players can negotiate and sign with any team in the league, but their previous team has the “right of first refusal” to match any offer and try to retain the player.

Unrestricted free agents have completed a contract and played at least five years in the WNBA. A player can also become a UFA if they are cut by a team and passed through waivers without being claimed. Unless designated a core player, a UFA is free to negotiate and sign with any team.

A core player, as mentioned above, is unable to negotiate with other teams, but the team that has cored them must offer a one-year supermax contract. The team and player are able to negotiate a longer contract, but the tag will stick to that player for the length of the contract unless the player is traded, waived or retires. Each team has one core player designation, such as Phoenix with Brittney Griner and Los Angeles with Nneka Ogwumike. A player can be cored for only two seasons.

Teams may begin contract negotiations with free agents on Jan. 15, and players may officially sign contracts starting Feb. 1.

Connecticut Sun

UFAs: Briann January, Jonquel Jones

Reserved: Natisha Hiedeman (signed qualifying offer), Stephanie Jones (extended QO), Beatrice Mompremier (signed QO)

Indiana Fever

UFA: Jessica Breland

RFA: Lindsay Allen (extended QO)

Reserved: Victoria Vivians (extended QO), Temi Fagbenle (extended QO), Emma Cannon (extended QO), Chelsey Perry (extended QO), Bernadett Határ (extended QO)

Los Angeles Sparks

UFA: Nia Coffey

Reserved: Te’a Cooper (extended QO), Lauren Cox (signed QO), Marianna Tolo

Chicago Sky

UFAs: Kahleah Copper, Stefanie Dolson, Astou Ndour-Fall, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot

RFAs: Diamond DeShields (extended QO), Lexie Brown (extended QO)

Washington Mystics

UFAs: Tina Charles, Leilani Mitchell, Theresa Plaisance, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Shavonte Zellous

RFA: Myisha Hines-Allen

Reserved: Megan Gustafson

Seattle Storm

UFAs: Sue Bird, Cierra Burdick, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart

RFAs: Jordin Canada (extended QO), Mercedes Russell (extended QO), Stephanie Talbot (extended QO)

Reserved: Karlie Samuelson

Las Vegas Aces

UFAs: Liz Cambage, Angel McCoughtry, Kiah Stokes, Riquna Williams

RFA: A’ja Wilson

Reserved: JiSu Park

Minnesota Lynx

UFAs: Rachel Banham, Layshia Clarendon, Sylvia Fowles

Reserved: Bridget Carleton (signed QO), Anna Cruz (extended QO)

Phoenix Mercury

UFAs: Sophie Cunningham, Alanna Smith

RFA: Kia Nurse

Reserved: Shey Peddy, Sonja Petrovic

New York Liberty

UFAs: Rebecca Allen, Reshanda Gray

Reserved: Paris Kea, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe

Atlanta Dream

UFAs: Blake Dietrick, Tiffany Hayes, Odyssey Sims, Shekinna Stricklen, Courtney Williams, Elizabeth Williams

RFA: Monique Billings (extended QO)

Reserved: Jaylyn Agnew (extended QO), Crystal Bradford

Dallas Wings

The Wings have no free agents and had previously exercised options on Satou Sabally, Tyasha Harris and Bella Alarie.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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