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WNBA teams sound off on Aces investigation: ‘We just want a level playing field’

The Las Vegas Aces are under investigation for accusations they mistreated Dearica Hamby and for salary cap violations. (Mike Kirschbaum/NBAE via Getty Images)

WNBA team leaders are up in arms over alleged salary cap violations by the Las Vegas Aces.

The league is investigating the Aces for making under-the-table payment offers to players, The Next’s Howard Megdal reported Wednesday. And several of the Aces’ competitors came out strongly against any attempts to circumvent the rules.

The WNBA salary cap for the 2023 season stands at $1.42 million. In some international leagues, just one player can command that much; for example, Breanna Stewart has made $1.5 million per year playing in Russia.

Yet Atlanta Dream majority owner Larry Gottesdiener did not have any sympathy for teams looking to get around the collective bargaining agreement to attract players.

“The Dream wants to invest and ARE investing,” Gottesdiener wrote on Twitter. “Our front office went from seven people to 50 over the past two years. We just want a level playing field and to know what the rules are.

“Or if there aren’t any rules, that’s cool too. Just let us know.”

Cheryl Reeve, who serves as the coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Lynx, shared Gottesdiener’s sentiment in a reply to his post.

“The Lynx have progressive owners who want to invest and have been as well,” Reeve wrote. “Circumvention of the salary cap or violation of team travel rules isn’t an acceptable way to make the progress we all want to see.”

She continued to question the lay of the land in the WNBA in hashtags, saying the playing field is not level and asking: What are the rules?

Indiana Fever general manager Lin Dunn got in on the conversation as well in a response to Reeve’s tweet.

“We have progressive ‘all in’ owners,” she wrote. “If teams are violating salary cap guidelines or travel rules we expect the league office to address those issues!”

The uproar from team leaders makes clear that the investigation into the Aces spells trouble for the WNBA. If some teams have owners who are willing to incur financial penalties in order to sign the best players, then teams with owners who cannot or will not do so will suffer in comparison.