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How Jonquel Jones’ commerce impacts Breanna Stewart’s potential transfer


WNBA free company hasn’t even begun, however the league has been turned the other way up by two large trades that had been introduced Monday: Jonquel Jones, the 2021 MVP, was traded to the New York Liberty as a part of a three-team deal, and her former Connecticut Sun teammate Jasmine Thomas was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks.

The trades embody Tyasha Harris, Rebecca Allen, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Jasmine Walker and the rights of Kianna Smith all being traded to Connecticut, the Dallas Wings buying Natasha Howard and the rights to Crystal Dangerfield, and Kayla Thornton being traded from the Wings to the Liberty.

Los Angeles additionally now owns the No. 10 choose within the 2023 WNBA draft (from Connecticut), whereas the Sun acquired New York’s first-round choose (No. 6 total).

A supply additionally informed ESPN that the Sun intend to designate Brionna Jones a core participant; Friday is the final date groups can provide that designation.

There are certainly loads of offers to come back, to not point out extra motion when free brokers can formally signal offers starting Feb. 1. But for now, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, M.A. Voepel and Alexa Philippou share their evaluation on what this pair of trades means for every particular person crew concerned and the league as a complete.

What does the Jonquel Jones commerce imply for the Liberty’s possibilities of signing Breanna Stewart?

Only Stewart can reply that, however the construction of the commerce opens up the potential for the Liberty constructing a superteam with two of the previous three MVPs. Because New York despatched out extra wage than it took again within the deal, the Liberty’s cap house has elevated to greater than $300,000, based mostly on wage information from — simply sufficient to make a max provide ($202,154) to Stewart or one other free agent.

Additionally, New York managed to retain a tradable first-round choose that could possibly be despatched to the Seattle Storm if Stewart desires a bigger supermax deal ($234,936) that may require negotiating a sign-and-trade.

We do not should envision what a crew with Jones and Stewart could be like. They performed collectively for EuroLeague champion UMMC Ekaterinburg in 2020-21 together with Brittney Griner, Emma Meesseman, Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot. The lineup was so loaded that Jones sometimes got here off the bench months earlier than successful WNBA MVP, although she nonetheless averaged 12.1 factors and seven.7 rebounds per recreation.

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Because WNBA free company was largely sleepy earlier than the present collective bargaining settlement was signed in 2020, there is not any actual precedent for this type of NBA-style team-up of MVPs of their primes. (Jones simply turned 29; Stewart is 28.) The closest was most likely Sylvia Fowles requesting a commerce to the Minnesota Lynx, becoming a member of MVP Maya Moore. However, Fowles did not truly win MVP till she was in Minnesota.

Add in one other younger All-Star in former No. 1 choose Sabrina Ionescu and the Liberty might grow to be probably the most proficient crew within the league — in the event that they’re capable of persuade Stewart to check in New York after taking a gathering with the crew final offseason. — Pelton

Is the Sun’s championship window nonetheless open?

It’s troublesome to think about a Sun crew with out Jonquel Jones — thought-about by many a top-three participant on the earth — having a practical shot at a championship. Recent information from Pivot Analysis illustrated how Jones was Connecticut’s most impactful participant in 4 of the previous 5 seasons (not together with her opt-out yr in 2020). That stated, Connecticut did not seem to have a lot of a alternative in Jones’ departure (ESPN beforehand reported that she requested a commerce to New York particularly), and given how the league is structured, the return on her commerce was possible not going to be equitable to what was misplaced.

So now the Sun resolve to prioritize re-signing Brionna Jones, who’s anticipated to be cored. As the roster at present stands, they are going to be constructing round Brionna Jones, Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner, with a ton of younger gamers surrounding them (their solely newcomers on protected contracts are Allen and Harris). Allen will present perimeter capturing, one thing that has been the Sun’s Achilles’ heel the previous few seasons.

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While Jasmine Thomas is coming off an ACL tear and has extra years behind her than in entrance of her within the WNBA, these transactions seem to point the Sun are Harris — who’s younger and comparatively unproven — and Natisha Hiedeman — ought to she keep in Connecticut — to run the purpose. The group prolonged a qualifying provide to Hiedeman final week, however she might nonetheless find yourself on one other crew.

It’s unclear how a lot Brionna Jones’ contract would find yourself being with the Sun, but when it is the supermax, Connecticut would have simply over $170,000 remaining to signal one or two gamers (not together with Hiedeman), if the cap scenario stands as it’s now. So Connecticut might signal at the very least one impactful free agent, and with extra maneuvering maybe much more. — Philippou

The Wings have been concerned in numerous trades and transactions. Are they actually making themselves higher?

It stays to be seen. The franchise moved to Dallas to grow to be the Wings in 2016, and is now on its fifth coach (counting an interim) there. During that point, Greg Bibb has been the manager answerable for making strikes. The query is how in live performance these strikes have been with the teaching philosophies.

Skylar Diggins-Smith wished out earlier than the 2020 season and pushed for a commerce to the Phoenix Mercury that netted three draft picks. From that, solely Ty Harris (three seasons) and Bella Alarie (two seasons) have performed any important time for Dallas. Alarie did not play in any respect final season, and now Harris has been dealt to Connecticut.

Then in 2021, the Wings traded Katie Lou Samuelson and a 2022 second-round choose to get the No. 1 choose within the weak 2021 draft, after they already had the No. 2 choice. They took Texas Longhorns middle Charli Collier first, however she has but to make an influence.

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Now Dallas has traded so as to add Howard and Dangerfield to a crew that misplaced 2-1 within the first spherical of the playoffs to Connecticut final season and has Latricia Trammell as its latest coach. It has been rumored that Allisha Gray, who was the Wings’ prime draft choose at No. 4 in 2017, desires out of Dallas. And the Wings have choices to make involving gamers comparable to Marina Mabrey and Teaira McCowan, who’re each restricted free brokers.

Did this newest commerce make Dallas’ taking part in rotations for 2023 any clearer? Or did the Wings simply choose up extra puzzle items with out being absolutely positive how they may match collectively? — Voepel

What does Monday’s commerce imply for the Sparks’ rebuild?

The Sparks confronted a captivating scenario getting into free company with a slew of free agent veterans, numerous youthful expertise on unprotected contracts and simply two gamers (Samuelson and Chennedy Carter) on protected offers.

While the upside of their youth might have been a part of the muse for his or her rebuild, the Sparks determined to commerce Nelson-Ododa, Walker and Smith and usher in a veteran level guard with one yr left on her contract (Jasmine Thomas), which appears particularly noteworthy given Sparks guards Lexie Brown, Jordin Canada, Brittney Sykes and Kristi Toliver are free brokers. No doubt new Sparks coach Curt Miller was thrilled with signing Thomas, his former longtime level guard in Uncasville. Another plus is the Sparks bought Connecticut’s first-round choose after buying and selling theirs away within the deal that introduced Carter to L.A. final yr.

That stated, there’s a lot else we do not find out about L.A.’s scenario but that it is unattainable to completely perceive the ceiling or flooring of this group, even when, for instance, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike each return as anticipated. As the franchise with probably the most cap house heading into the brand new yr, it is possible the Sparks’ large strikes aren’t finished. — Philippou


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