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2024 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Tips Off With Refreshed Format

2023 Commissioner's Cup champions New York Liberty celebrate the win
The 2023 Cup champions New York Liberty are looking for the repeat. (Mike Kirschbaum/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Commissioner's Cup returns to the WNBA for a fourth season this month, and it arrives with a slightly new look.

The 2023 champion New York Liberty got their repeat quest off to a comfortable start on Sunday with a 104-68 win over Indiana. Joining them are Connecticut, Phoenix and Minnesota who have all gotten off to winning starts, while Indiana is 1-1 in Cup play.

This year’s Cup schedule is slightly condensed, with games taking place from June 1st to the 13th. The final will then be played on June 25th, with the team with the best overall record in Cup play acting as hosts.  

While some things about the tournament remain the same — like all games also counting toward the regular season win-loss record — there have been some changes. Previously, teams played 10 qualifying games, but the new format now has teams playing just five throughout the Cup. And during qualifying games, each team plays against in-conference opponents once.

The WNBA also unveiled a new ball specifically designed for the tournament, described in a statement as "a step forward in making our in-season tournament a distinct and recognizable WNBA tentpole."

Similar to past tournaments, Cup teams will play for a $500,000 prize pool, which amounts to around $45,000 per player. The championship game MVP will also receive a bonus.

Each team will also sponsor a nonprofit organization invested in social justice work, with money set to be donated at the conclusion of the Cup. This new charity component is intended to "highlight civic engagement efforts, with an emphasis on the impact of voting on reproductive health matters within communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community."

While the Liberty are looking to capture back-to-back Cups, achieving a repeat is no easy feat. Last year, the 2022 Commissioner's Cup-winning Aces lost in the championship while Seattle, who won the inaugural Cup in 2021, haven’t been back to the championship since.

Commissioner's Cup schedule

Saturday, June 1st

  • Indiana Fever 71, Chicago Sky 70

Sunday, June 2nd

  • Connecticut Sun 69, Atlanta Dream 50
  • Phoenix Mercury 87, Los Angeles Sparks 68
  • New York Liberty 104, Indiana Fever 68
  • Minnesota Lynx 87, Dallas Wings 76

Tuesday, June 4th

  • Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun — 7 PM ET on League Pass
  • New York Liberty at Chicago Sky —7 PM ET on NBA TV
  • Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm — 10 PM ET on CBS Sports Network

Wednesday, June 5th

  • Las Vegas Aces at Dallas Wings — 8 PM ET on NBA TV
  • Minnesota Lynx at Los Angeles Sparks — 10 PM ET on League Pass

Thursday, June 6th

  • Chicago Sky at Washington Mystics — 7 PM ET on Amazon Prime
  • New York Liberty at Atlanta Dream — 7:30 PM ET on League Pass

Friday, June 7th

  • Indiana Fever at Washington Mystics — 7:30 PM ET on ION
  • Seattle Storm at Las Vegas Aces — 10 PM ET on ION
  • Dallas Wings at Los Angeles Sparks — 10 PM ET on ION
  • Minnesota Lynx at Phoenix Mercury — 10 PM ET on- ION

Saturday, June 8th

  • New York Liberty at Connecticut Sun — 1 PM ET on ABC
  • Atlanta Dream at Chicago Sky — 5 PM ET on NBA TV

Sunday, June 9th

  • Washington Mystics at New York Liberty — 3 PM ET on League Pass
  • Phoenix Mercury at Dallas Wings — 4 PM ET on League Pass
  • Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx — 7 PM ET on League Pass
  • Las Vegas Aces at Los Angeles Sparks — 9 PM ET on League Pass

Monday, June 10th

  • Indiana Fever at Connecticut Sun — 7 PM ET on NBA TV

Tuesday, June 11th

  • Washington Mystics at Atlanta Dream — 7:30 PM ET on League Pass
  • Minnesota Lynx at Las Vegas Aces — 10 PM ET on NBA TV
  • Los Angeles Sparks at Seattle Storm — 10 PM ET on League Pass

Wednesday, June 12th

  • Connecticut Sun at Chicago Sky — 7 PM ET on League Pass

Thursday, June 13th

  • Atlanta Dream at Indiana Fever — 7 PM ET on ESPN 3
  • Seattle Storm at Dallas Wings — 7 PM ET on ESPN
  • Las Vegas Aces at Phoenix Mercury — 10 PM ET on Amazon Prime

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

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