As the WNBA offseason approaches, so too do the implications of the prioritization clause in the league’s CBA, which will go into effect next season.
While players with less than two years’ experience are exempt from the rule, others must return from overseas play by the time the league opens its season — otherwise they will be ineligible to play in the 2023 campaign.
Chicago Sky players spoke on the rule Friday in their exit interviews.
Courtney Vandersloot said the rule is one of the reasons she signed just a one-year deal with the Sky. While she has played with Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg in the past, Vandersloot signed with Hungary’s Sopron Basket for the upcoming overseas season.
Belgian forward Emma Meesseman also has spent significant time playing overseas. Meesseman missed the last two WNBA seasons to play in Europe.
She noted that prioritization is not exactly the most friendly policy for international players.
“As a European, I don’t think that rule is fair to non-Americans [players],” she said.
Meesseman signed with Fenerbahce Safisport for the upcoming European season. She said she believes the Turkish club will tighten the timeline of its season to ensure that WNBA players are able to return within the timeframe set by the prioritization rule.
Seattle’s Gabby Williams offered up a clear picture of her priorities.
“I’m also shying away from the W because teams aren’t touching what I’m making in Europe,” she said Wednesday.
While the rule will throw a wrench into players’ and teams’ plans, Seattle’s Sue Bird provided a different perspective.
“The league was in a place of not negotiating without it. We wouldn’t have got the money, the maternity leave, without it. I’m not defending it,” she said. “I want the WNBA to be the only league people play in. I want it to thrive so we never have to go overseas.”