SEATTLE STORM

Storm star Breanna Stewart, Kent’s Vandersloot among WNBA free agents

Jan 21, 2023, 10:12 AM
Seattle Storm Chicago Sky Breanna Stewart Courtney Vandersloot...
Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot drives to the hoop against Seattle's Breanna Stewart on May 18, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Breanna Stewart is the biggest WNBA free agent on the market this offseason and the former MVP has a host of teams courting her, including the Seattle Storm where she’s spent her entire career.

She’s one of five former league MVPs who are unrestricted free agents this year. Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles all could potentially change teams in the coming weeks although it would be a surprise if Taurasi left Phoenix and Ogwumike didn’t go back to Los Angeles.

Brittney Griner, who was returned to the U.S. last month in a prisoner swap after her 10 months in jail in Russia for drug possession charges, has said that she’ll remain in Phoenix.

Where the others go will be determined over the next few weeks. Teams can start negotiating with players on Saturday and can begin signing players on Feb. 1.

“This year may bring us the most active free agent periods to date with what seems to be a record number of all-stars in conversations for trades or free agent signings,” ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson said. “The kind of moves we have seen in recent off-seasons can really tilt the scales dramatically when we look ahead to what teams will be top contenders for a WNBA championship.”

It’s already been a busy offseason with a handful of trades completed — none bigger than former MVP Jonquel Jones heading to New York. The Liberty are a potential destination for Stewart, who hails from upstate New York. The team had a dinner meeting with Stewart last offseason in Los Angeles. The 2018 MVP is currently playing in Turkey for Fenerbahçe this winter.

Stewart told The Associated Press while playing for the U.S. at the World Cup in Australia last September that she’d be taking free agent meetings in Turkey.

“I’m going to be a free agent,” Stewart said. “I did last year and I’ll do it again this year. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take those meetings and have those conversations. The decision is what’s best for myself and my family.”

Stewart posted a tweet Friday that indicted she would meet with the Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics and New York Liberty.

The 28-year-old forward has spent her entire WNBA career in Seattle and re-signed with the Storm last season for one year. She was the runner-up for MVP, averaging 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

The Storm will be going through changes in 2023, their first season since the retirement of team legend Sue Bird at the end of last year.

It’s not just the former MVPs who are free agents. Courtney Vandersloot, a Kent, Wash., native who starred in college at Gonzaga and is No. 3 on the WNBA career all-time assists list, is an unrestricted free agent as well as 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman. Vandersloot, Parker and Meesseman were three key members of Chicago’s lineup last season.

Connecticut cored Sixth Woman of the Year Brionna Jones, meaning she’ll stay with the Sun for at least another season.

All the teams are trying to add to their rosters to catch WNBA champion Las Vegas. The Aces have all five of their starters back, signing a few of them during the year ahead of the potential free agency period.

SeattleSports.com staff contributed to this post.

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