What does the addition of Candace Parker mean for the Aces’ lineup?
The Aces played a limited rotation last season.
As 2022 WNBA free agency gets underway, teams around the league will look to bolster their rosters ahead of the WNBA Draft in April and the upcoming season.
Reserved free agents who have been extended qualifying offers can re-sign with their teams at any time. Restricted and unrestricted free agents can start negotiating contracts on Jan. 15 and officially sign with teams beginning Feb. 1.
The WNBA free agency market is stacked with talent this year. For more information on the terms, dates and players to know, check out Just Women’s Sports’ free agency primer.
Unrestricted free agent Breanna Stewart previously told SB Nation that she expects this year to be the “biggest free agency” since the new CBA went into effect in January 2020. Follow along with us here as we see if Stewart’s prediction comes true.
WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper is finalizing a multi-year deal to return to Chicago, sources tell Just Women’s Sports. Copper had the core designation placed on her earlier this month. A member of the Sky since 2017, in 2021 she led Chicago in scoring during the regular season (14.4 points per game) and playoffs (17.7). She was the first of two major dominoes to fall for the Sky on Monday, as it was reported by Winsidr’s Rachel Galligan and later confirmed by Just Women’s Sports that the Sky will be signing Emma Meesseman for the upcoming season. A high-scoring power forward, Meesseman is the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP, having won the 2019 championship with the Washington Mystics. She spent last season overseas with UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Tina Charles is also leaving the Mystics, according to the Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland. Last season the former No. 1 overall pick led the league in points with 23.4 per game.
In other Mystics’ news, Elizabeth Williams will join the team on a one-year deal, according to The Next Hoops. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 draft, she spent the last six seasons with the Atlanta Dream. Last season she averaged 5.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The Dream also acquired Kia Vaughn from the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for their 2023 third round draft pick.
Sources told Just Women’s Sports that in other Mercury news, Sophie Cunningham is expected to re-sign with the team.
According to The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings, unrestricted free agent Stefanie Dolson has agreed to terms for a multi-year deal with the New York Liberty. Previously, it had been reported that she had narrowed down her choices to New York and Seattle.
Dolson spent the past five seasons with the Chicago Sky, including winning a WNBA championship with the team last season. Last season the two-time All-Star averaged 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists through 24 games.
Mercedes Russell will be returning to the Seattle Storm on a multi-year deal, according to Windsidr’s Rachel Galligan.
Unrestricted free agent Angel McCoughtry has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Lynx, as first reported by Girls Talk Sports TV. A member of the Atlanta Dream from 2009-19, McCoughtry spent the past two seasons with the Las Vegas Aces.
A five-time WNBA All-Star, the guard has twice been the WNBA scoring champion (2012, 2013) and twice led the WNBA in steals (2012, 2014). In 2020, McCoughtry averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. She sat out of the 2021 season with a torn ACL. McCoughtry is a big pickup for the Lynx, who are returning reigning Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles for her 15th WNBA season.
Myisha Hines-Allen is also reportedly close to a deal. Hines-Allen will re-sign with the Washington Mystics on a multi-year contract, according to Winsidr.
The Connecticut Sun, meanwhile, have reached an agreement with Courtney Williams, as first reported by Girls Talk Sports TV on Jan. 23 and confirmed by The Next Hoops on Friday. Williams will return to Connecticut after playing for the Sun from 2016-19. The 2021 WNBA All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Dream in February 2020, spending two seasons with the team.
Two-year Sun guard Briann January is expected to leave to sign with the Seattle Storm. January averaged 7.0 points, 3.1 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game for Connecticut last season.
Unrestricted free agent Stefanie Dolson has reportedly narrowed her choices down to New York and Seattle. She had previously been linked to Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta as landing spots.
The Olympic gold medalist has been a member of the Sky since 2017. Last season, she averaged 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the WNBA champions.
Sources told Just Women’s Sports that reigning league MVP Jonquel Jones will return to the Connecticut Sun on a multi-year deal. The deal follows the Sun placing the core designation on Jones with the offer of a one-year, $228,094 supermax deal. According to sources, the multi-year deal that Jones plans to sign is less than the supermax, enabling the team more cap space to work with in free agency.
Jones had a strong 2021 season, winning WNBA MVP, being named to the All-WNBA First Team and making her third All-Star appearances. She led the Sun with 19.4 points per game and the league with 11.2 rebounds per game.
Per Girls Talk Sports TV, Courtney Williams is expected to finalize a deal and return to the Connecticut Sun. She spent three seasons with the Sun before being traded to the Atlanta Dream in 2019.
Williams spent the last two seasons with the Dream, but was told she would not be re-signed following an incident outside of an Atlanta day club in May. She was later suspended for two games of the upcoming season by the WNBA. While with the Sun she was a major factor in the team’s 2019 WNBA Finals run, averaging 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the postseason.
On Saturday, Winsidr reported that Kiah Stokes is expected to sign with the Atlanta Dream. Stokes is a six-year WNBA veteran, playing five seasons with the New York Liberty and more recently with Las Vegas. Through 15 appearances with the Aces, she averaged 1.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game.
According to Winsidr, the Dream are also in the stages of finalizing a deal to re-sign Tiffany Hayes. During the 2021 season, Hayes had a career-best season, averaging 14.7 points, 1.6 steals and 3.0 assists per game.
All-Star center Sylvia Fowles intends to return to the WNBA next season, the StarTribune reported on Tuesday. Fowles has played for the Minnesota Lynx in seven of her 14 seasons but is currently an unrestricted free agent. The two-time WNBA champion had one of her best seasons at age 35 in 2021, averaging 16 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 31 games.
The Indiana Fever also made headlines on Tuesday when they opted to waive Kysre Gondrezick, their No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft. Gondrezick played 19 games during her rookie season, averaging 1.9 points in 9.1 minutes. She took personal leave from the team after the Olympics, revealing in November that she needed time to address her mental health after the death of her father last January.
Gondrezick is the second top-four draft pick the Fever have released in two years, after the team waived 2020 No. 3 overall pick Lauren Cox last season. (The Los Angeles Sparks picked up Cox last June and have since re-signed the forward for the 2022 season). The Fever have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, where Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith are expected to be the top prospects.
Also on Tuesday, the Atlanta Dream claimed Megan Walker on waivers. Walker, the ninth overall pick of the New York Liberty in 2020, averaged 4.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 29 games with the Mercury last season.
The Las Vegas Aces renounced the rights of Clarissa Dos Santos, a 33-year-old Brazilian post player who was a member of the Chicago Sky from 2015-16. In two seasons in the WNBA, she averaged 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.
One of the biggest questions of free agency was somewhat answered Friday when the Storm placed the core designation on Jewell Loyd. At the beginning of free agency, it was unclear whether Seattle would choose to put the core designation on Loyd or Stewart, both unrestricted free agents this offseason. In September, Stewart said she expected to re-sign with the Storm, calling Seattle “home.” Loyd, however, remained undecided at the time.
As part of the core designation, Loyd could sign the one-year, supermax deal with Seattle or negotiate different terms. One of the top players in the league last season, the guard averaged 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for the 21-11 Storm.
After being extended a qualifying offer on Tuesday by Phoenix, Shey Peddy opted to sign a training camp contract to return to the team. The Mercury also extended a qualifying offer to Kia Nurse and waived Megan Walker.
Tianna Hawkins is back on the market after the Atlanta Dream waived the forward. In 2021, Hawkins averaged 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds through 28 games before missing the final four games of the season with a right foot injury.
The Chicago Sky opted on Wednesday to put the core designation on Kahleah Copper. The designation gives the Finals MVP the option to accept a one-year, $228,094 supermax deal to return to the team. The Sky will retain her rights, but the two sides can begin negotiating different terms on Jan. 15. While the offer could result in a sign-and-trade, Sky head coach and GM James Wade told Just Women’s Sports that the team wants to see Copper in a Sky uniform “for a long time.”
“She is a very important part of our culture off the court and on the court,” he said. “We appreciate the growth that she has had and we appreciate the fact that she is so motivated to continue to grow and evolve as a star player.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Sparks added Gabby Williams to the 2022 roster. Williams was acquired by the Sparks via a trade with the Chicago Sky in May but spent last season on the full-season suspended list due to international commitments with the French national team. The team also announced that 2021 No. 7 overall pick Jasmine Walker will return after missing nearly her entire rookie season with a torn ACL.
The Phoenix Mercury extended a qualifying offer to Shey Peddy on Tuesday. A three-year WNBA veteran, Peddy is a reserved free agent. She joined the Mercury in August of 2020. During the 2021 season, Peddy averaged 4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
The New York Liberty have also been active, extending qualifying offers to Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Paris Kea.
The Sun offered reigning league MVP Jonquel Jones a qualifying offer on Monday of a one-year super max contract. Under league rules, the starting supermax salary in 2022 is $228,094. Jones can accept the offer or begin negotiations with any team on Jan. 15 as an unrestricted free agent.
In her MVP campaign last season, Jones led the Sun with 19.4 points per game and finished first in the league with 11.2 rebounds per game.
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird broke the silence on her future on Friday, announcing that she will return for her 19th WNBA season in an Instagram post. An unrestricted free agent, the 41-year-old is all but certain to re-sign with Seattle and finish off her career with the team that drafted her No. 1 overall out of UConn in 2002. The Storm indicated Bird’s return on their own Twitter page, later deleting the posts because teams cannot officially announce signings until Feb. 1.
Throughout her career, Bird has averaged 12.0 points on 43 percent shooting, 5.6 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.4 minutes per game.
The Mystics extended qualifying offers to Megan Gustafson and Myisha Hines-Allen on Wednesday. On Thursday, Gustafson accepted the offer to return for her second season with the Mystics and fourth in the WNBA on a training camp contract. A reserve player, the 6-foot-3 forward averaged four points and 3.6 rebounds in 11 games last season.
OFFICIAL: Megan Gustafson has been signed to a training camp contract pic.twitter.com/UYzOWhgQA3— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) January 6, 2022
Fever forward Chelsey Perry signed her qualifying offer on Thursday to return to the Fever for a second season. The 26th overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft averaged 2.2 points, 1.0 rebounds and 6.7 minutes in six games last season.
Jaylyn Agnew accepted her qualifying offer with the Atlanta Dream, becoming the first player to sign a training camp contract with the franchise. Agnew last played for the Dream in 2020. The guard averaged 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists through eight games with Sparta&K in the Russian PBL League before sustaining an injury that kept her out of the 2021 WNBA season.
Forward Lauren Cox signed her qualifying offer to return to the Los Angeles Sparks, as first reported by JWS. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Cox was waived by the Fever during the 2021 season and signed with the Sparks on June 30.
Beatrice Mompremier, the 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft, re-signed with the Connecticut Sun on a one-year, $60,471 qualifying offer deal. The 6-foot-4 forward played in all 23 regular season games for the No. 1 Sun last season.
Guard Bridget Carleton signed her qualifying offer with the Minnesota Lynx to return for the 2022 season. The Ontario native averaged 4.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.3 minutes per game for the Lynx in 2021.
Natisha Hiedman will return to the Sun for a fourth season after signing her qualifying offer. The guard’s contract is for one year at $72,141, the veteran minimum for three-plus years of service. Hiedeman averaged a career-high 7.6 points in 20 minutes per game last season.
The Aces played a limited rotation last season.
Parker is making her way back west.
Robertson now has 498 3-pointers.
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