A first-of-its-kind sponsorship has hit the WNBA, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announcing on Friday it would be supporting all 12 players of the two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

The deal grants each player $100,000 dollars in exchange for representing the city in 2024 and 2025.

"The offer's really simple: We want you to just play, we want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that'd be icing on the cake," LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told the team in a video released Friday.

The news comes as WNBA salaries and team caps continue to be a point of contention in the league. With many players making less than $100,000 a year, outside sponsors have long helped bridge the financial gap for players. 

On Saturday, Aces coach Becky Hammon said that the local tourism bureau had reached out to all of the players individually via their agents, leaving the Aces organization out of the conversation entirely. The goal was to avoid breaking cap circumvention rules established by the league’s CBA.

"I'm going to put it to you real simple like this: Most of sponsorship people go after the top two people," Hammon said. "[A'ja Wilson] is taken care of — she's got plenty of stuff going on. [Kelsey Plum] has plenty of stuff. In this situation, from what I understand, is they wanted the whole team. So they went and called individuals, agents. I don't know the details. 

"I have nothing to do with it; the Aces don't have anything to do with it. It's just odd, but that's basically what happened."

Despite the apparent separation, the WNBA has launched an investigation into the legality of the sponsorship, according to multiple sources

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While the sponsorship does not directly violate the league-wide salary cap because the LVCVA did not orchestrate the sponsorship with the club, other teams are likely to raise questions about its fairness and whether or not it violates the spirit of the cap rules. The deal could potentially upend the balance of what teams are able to offer players in the free agency market.

"We have 100 influencers we pay to represent Las Vegas," Hill told the Associated Press. "This isn’t any different then that. All of these ladies are completely eligible to have sponsorships. We are just asking them to represent Vegas."

It’s not the first time the league has investigated the Aces for cap circumnavigation. Just last year, the team faced consequences — Hammon was suspended for two games while the team lost its 2025 first-round draft pick — for crossing league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

"We get [things] from our agents all the time; they wanted it to be a big moment because it's something that's never happened before," Aces star forward A'ja Wilson said about the LVCVA's offer. "I don't understand the investigation; I haven't dived into it yet. I just looked at my phone [after the game] and was like, 'Oh, wow, just another day in the life of the Aces.' We can't ever start just normal, it's always going to be something, and that's okay."

The Las Vegas Aces had a lot to say during their 2023 WNBA championship parade, with much of it directed at the New York Liberty.

There was a lot of talking about going for a three-peat, with WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson noting that the Aces are “going to do this s–t again.” The Aces were the first team in 21 years to win back-to-back titles, beating the Liberty in four games.

“We’re going to keep coming back, and everybody hates it,” Kelsey Plum told the crowd at Monday’s parade.

Yet the Aces’ Game 3 loss to the Liberty — their only loss throughout the 2023 playoffs — still sticks out as a source of frustration. In particular, Sabrina Ionescu’s “night night” celebration after hitting a key 3-pointer remains a point of contention. Sydney Colson mimicked the gesture after the Aces’ series-clinching win over the Liberty, and it came up again during the parade.

“They messed up when they went ‘night night,’” Chelsea Gray said. “And Sydney said I’m sitting on that Sabrina!”

Meanwhile, head coach Becky Hammon called out Liberty star Breanna Stewart’s Game 4 stat line, which included her going 3-for-17 from the field while being guarded by Alysha Clark.

“Alysha Clark was my rookie in San Antonio,” Hammon said, to which Clark replied: “Talk about it.”

“3-for-17 is you need to talk about it,” Hammon responded.

Wilson, meanwhile, was focused on her MVP snub, opting to wear a shirt that had the voting numbers on the back. She finished third for the regular-season award behind Stewart and Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas. Wilson also called out the person that voted for her in fourth place, noting that she was going to use it as fuel for next season.

And at the end of the night, the Aces couldn’t resist getting in one more “night night.”

A’ja Wilson took one last shot at the person who put her in fourth place on their WNBA MVP ballot.

During the Las Vegas Aces’ championship parade Monday, Wilson wore a shirt that featured the MVP voting results on the back. Wilson received 17 first-place votes, 25 second-place votes, 17 third-place votes and one fourth-place vote, and she finished third overall behind Breanna Stewart and Alyssa Thomas.

But Wilson had the last laugh, winning the WNBA title over Stewart’s New York Liberty and the Finals MVP award. And during the Aces’ celebration, Wilson spoke about using the snub as fuel for next season.

“Whoever you are out there that voted me fourth, thank you. Thank you so much,” she said. “I wanna say I appreciate you because that just means I got a lot more work to do. And we coming back. We coming back baby. We’re gonna do this s–t again.”

Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon touted Wilson during her speech, calling out the player who she believes will be the “GOAT of the GOATs.”

“Listen here, I’m an old ass b–ch,” Hammon said. “I played against all of the GOATs. Oh, I’m gonna put it out there: This gonna be the GOAT of the GOATs. She don’t even know how I’m about to be on that ass, because she’s that good.

“I’m trying to think of a NBA comp, I’m trying to think of a WNBA comp. And there ain’t nobody in the world like A’ja Wilson, who willed us on her back.”

Hammon and Wilson’s college coach, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, also have called out Wilson’s MVP snub. For Hammon, that’s a sure sign that the voters “didn’t do their homework,” she said during the Aces’ playoff run.

The 2023 WNBA Finals were billed as a battle of the titans between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty. But in the end, only one team lived up to the superteam label.

The Liberty assembled a superstar lineup in the offseason, signing Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot and trading for Jonquel Jones. The Aces, meanwhile, added Candace Parker – though they went without the injured star for the latter half of the season.

In the end, the Aces came out on top, winning a second consecutive WNBA title. Las Vegas won the first title in franchise history in 2022 with much the same lineup.

“This group has been through so much. But it’s here,” Aces guard Kelsey Plum said. “And there was a lot of years that we weren’t so super. But you can’t build a superteam in a couple of months. It takes years.”

Plum also questioned New York’s team mentality, not just its superteam credentials.

“We also knew that, as much as they’re a team, they’re not a team, if that makes sense,” she told Yahoo Sports. “They’re really good individual players, but they don’t care about each other. And you can tell in those moments. They revert back to individual basketball.”

For Las Vegas, the road back to the championship wasn’t an easy one. Injuries left the team depleted for Game 4 of the Finals, but in the end, there wasn’t anything that could keep the Aces from back-to-back championships.

“This is a moment that we need to celebrate,” Finals MVP A’ja Wilson said. “Not a lot of people get a chance to do it, and for us to do it short-handed is truly amazing. It just makes this win that much better.

“I’m going to get choked up … This s— wasn’t easy.”

Winning one title isn’t easy. Winning consecutive titles is even harder.

“This one’s sweeter,” head coach Becky Hammon said after the series-clinching win. “It just is. It’s harder to do.”

Orlando Magic assistant coach Nate Tibbetts is the new head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, the team announced Wednesday.

The Mercury are making Tibbetts, who has no women’s basketball experience, the highest-paid WNBA head coach, passing the Las Vegas Aces’ Becky Hammon, ESPN reported Monday. The terms of Tibbetts’ deal have not been reported, but Hammon reportedly earns $1 million per season.

Hammon signed with the Aces on a record-setting deal ahead of the 2022 offseason. Before that, she spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Teresa Weatherspoon, who was hired last week as the head coach of the Chicago Sky, also brought NBA experience. Both Hammon and Weatherspoon also have WNBA playing experience.

While this will be Tibbetts’ first time coaching in the WNBA, he has held multiple NBA assistant coaching roles. He joined the Magic in 2021, and previously worked with the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Nate is an excellent basketball coach and an even better person,” Mercury general manager Nick U’Ren said in a news release. “I am excited to work with him as we build an organization that our players, fans and community will be proud of. His knowledge of the game, and commitment to creating a winning culture on and off the floor will be invaluable as we lead the Mercury into our next championship era.”

Tibbetts takes over a Mercury team that has struggled in recent seasons. In 2023, the team finished last in the league with a 9-31 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Phoenix parted ways with head coach Vanessa Nygaard in late June, and then after the season elected not to elevate interim head coach Nikki Blue to the permanent role.

“From bringing the WNBA All-Star game to Phoenix, building a dedicated practice facility for the Mercury, and now to bringing on Nate as our head coach, everything we do, on and off the floor, centers around our fans, elevating Phoenix as the epicenter of basketball, and setting a new standard for investment in women’s sports,” Mercury owner Mat Ishbia said in a news release.

Nate Tibbetts is set to become the highest-paid coach in WNBA history with the Phoenix Mercury, which prompted one WNBA star to call out the pay discrepancies between players and coaches.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad coaches are getting paid,” Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier wrote on social media. “But it’s kinda crazy they’re making 4 times more than the highest paid players.”

For the 2023 season, Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler was the highest-paid player in the league, with a salary of $242,154. In 2024, a trio of players are set to lead the league with salaries of $241,984: Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale, Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd and Chicago Sky guard Kahleah Copper.

Collier had a salary of $202,154 for the 2023 season. The average salary for WNBA players in the 2022 season stood at $102,751.

Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon, who was the highest-paid coach in the WNBA before Tibbetts, reportedly earns $1 million per season. While the exact terms of the deal have not been reported, he is set to outearn Hammon, ESPN reported Monday.

Collier is not the first player who has called out salary issues in the WNBA. Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum pointed out the pay gap with the NBA after the 2022 season, saying: “We’re not asking to get paid what the men get paid. We’re asking to get paid the same percentage of revenue shared.”

The Las Vegas Aces lost Game 3 of the WNBA Finals to the New York Liberty, and the team could be without one of its biggest weapons moving forward.

Aces point guard Chelsea Gray suffered an apparent left foot injury during the game and then hopped off the court into the bowels of the arena. Gray then was seen being helped into the training room by two members of the team staff.

After the game, Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon said she did not have an update on Gray’s condition. “I’ll let you know when we know,” Hammon told reporters.

Gray, the reigning WNBA Finals MVP after leading the Aces to a 3-1 series victory over the Connecticut Sun last season, went down in the fourth quarter Sunday in what turned into an 87-73 rout for the Liberty.

She scored 11 points before her departure. Upon reaching the bench after the injury, she seemed to say that her “foot popped.”

Gray is averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds for Las Vegas this postseason. In the Aces’ two victories to start the series she scored a combined 34 points to go along with 20 assists and 12 rebounds.

If Gray misses more time during the best-of-five series, “no one person will replace her,” Hammon said.

The Liberty will host the Aces for Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday at the Barclays Center in New York. If necessary, Game 5 will be held at 9 p.m. ET Friday in Las Vegas.

Becky Hammon isn’t letting go of the disrespect shown to A’ja Wilson in WNBA MVP voting.

Wilson finished third in voting for the award, behind winner Breanna Stewart and Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas. One voter even had Wilson in fourth place on their ballot. And following the announcement of MVP, Hammon brought evidence to reporters to argue Wilson’s case.

After Wednesday’s 104-76 win against the New York Liberty in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, the Las Vegas Aces head coach reiterated her opinion, saying that Wilson’s third-place finish is “a joke.”

“This lady has been ridiculous, and she’s heard it all,” Hammon said. “Third in MVP voting? Okay. Rest on that. It’s a joke. She’s been off the charts efficient. She got – and I love Stewie, you know I love bigs that can shoot threes – but her efficiency on both ends, it’s been ridiculous.”

Hammon also attributed some of Wilson’s lower stat lines to the fact that she often rested her star player during the Aces’ blowout wins. Wilson had 26 points and 15 rebounds in the team’s blowout victory over New York on Wednesday.

The 2022 WNBA MVP also is averaging better numbers than she did in the regular season, putting up 24.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in the postseason. In Game 1 of the Finals, Wilson had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Three times, Wilson has eclipsed the 30-point mark in the playoffs, and she came close again Wednesday as the Aces took a commanding 2-0 lead in the championship series..

“If I would have played her as many minutes, she would’ve averaged 28 and 13,” Hammon said. “And that’s all anybody would’ve been talking about, but she got screwed because her coach didn’t play her in fourth quarters.”

A’ja Wilson deserves her own signature sneaker, Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon said after Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

LeBron James gifted Wilson a custom pair of his own shoes ahead of Sunday’s contest, with the shoes quickly going viral as the Aces pulled off a 99-82 win against the New York Liberty. Wilson posted 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals in the shoes.

Yet while Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu play in their own signature shoes, Wilson is still waiting on her own sneaker.

“You think?” replied Aces head coach Becky Hammon when asked by The Messenger if Wilson should get a signature shoe. “You don’t need my thoughts. You already know my thoughts.”

And then Hammon expanded further, adding: “She needs her own shoe. She is the two-time MVP. I’ll toot her horn because she won’t. Olympic gold medalist, best defensive player two years running, her team’s (success)… Stop. Stop.”

As for Wilson, who won the 2022 WNBA MVP award and the 2022 and 2023 Defensive Player of the Year awards, she knows that her time will come. More and more shoes have been popping up in the WNBA, from Stewart to Ionescu to Elena Delle Donne. And she’s also thankful to have her name in the conversation.

“In due time, in due time,” Wilson told The Messenger. “We’ll see what goes on, but in due time I believe we’re going to get something moving and shaking. But I’m blessed just to have my name in that conversation.

“A lot of players don’t get signature shoes so for people to say I should or demanding that I get one, I’m blessed to be in that situation. So, in due time, we’ll see, until then I’m going to rock these LeBron 21s until the heel falls off.”

Coach Becky Hammon is ready for her Las Vegas Aces to get back on the court.

When the Aces open the 2023 WNBA Finals against the New York Liberty on Sunday, it will mark nine days since their last game. By sweeping the Dallas Wings in the semifinal, the Aces afforded themselves a long rest – and Hammon is anxious for it to end.

“I hate waiting that long,” Hammon said to reporters. “As a coach, you just start dicing everything in your head. We could do this. We could do that. And sometimes it’s just, ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’”

Hammon emphasized she does not want to confuse her players.

“What I don’t want to do is bog them down schmetically to where it makes them slow and not reactionary. Our aggression can work in our favor,” she said.

The Liberty, meanwhile, last played Oct. 1. New York coach Sandy Brondello suggested the series could’ve started a couple days earlier.

“Rest is good, but maybe start a little earlier,” Brondello said of the series’ scheduling. “It’s like a marathon just to get this done.”

But there is a silver lining, Brondello said.

“Everyone is going to be rested so fatigue shouldn’t be a big issue. We’l just go out there and lay it all out on the line,” she said.