Get ready for the fireworks, people.
The fun period of the WNBA offseason is on the horizon. As of yesterday, teams are now allowed to submit qualifying offers and base assignments to their restricted and unrestricted free agents respectively. That period ends on January 20, with free agents and (outside) teams able to negotiate deals on January 21.
With stars like Breanna Stewart, Candace Parker, and Nneka Ogwumike leading the market – and with rumors already swirling of Stewart eyeing the Big Apple – this is one of the most anticipated free agency periods in recent memory.
Under the star layer, it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s going on with the Dallas Wings.
Midway Last seasonChristina Williams from Girls Talk Sports (follow her!) reported that Alesha Gray — an All-Star caliber winger for Dallas — would stay throughout the trade deadline, but was expected to be transferred during the season.
Well, the offseason is here, and that, according to Williams, seems more like an inevitability.
Here’s her report from Wednesday night:
SOURCES: Allisha Gray is expected to be traded from Dallas. Possible destinations include Washington, Chicago, Connecticut and Atlanta. Gray is in the final year of her contract and plans to practice free agency when her contract expires.
– Kristina Williams
January 12, 2023
Not only are we following Gray, but we also have potential destinations!
The Connecticut Sun have appeared in the World Cup Finals (and lost to the Las Vegas Ices), but have their own tightrope to walk with the actual All-Stars. Breonna Jones, a two-time All-Star and sixth Woman of the Year title, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. And because of Sun’s salary crunch, they may not be able to keep it at the maximum deal it’s worth without moving a piece (or two) of their core.
Aside from the Seattle Storm, there may not be a team on The W with a greater potential roster turnover rate than the Chicago Sky. After losing to the Sun in the Eastern Conference Finals, they are now facing a difficult season. Parker is a free agent, as are All-Star guard Courtney Vandersloot, pitcher Ally Quigley and superstar Azura Stephens.
The Washington Mystics are stacked with talent, led by Elena Delle Donne and a pair of two-way forces in Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins. Even though they have pending free agents like Alisha Clark, Chateau Walker Kimbra, and Elizabeth Williams, they don’t risk losing. Nucleus A talent like Sun and Sky, which makes it an exciting landing spot for Gray.
And then, we have the Atlanta dream, which organizational reform Prepared them for long-term success. Not only do they have talent now — Ryan Howard has written “star” all over her, and the big, versatile Cheyenne Parker is coming off the best season of her career — she’s full of cover space.
In short, the destination roster has three recent contenders and one team on the rise with plenty of money to spend. All four can use boost fire in particular.
To that end, it’s easy to see why Gray would like it so much. She was one of six players to drop 40% of their threes while attempting at least four in each game. Her ability to play against slanted defenses adds to her offensive value. Add in her defense – the list of players who can defend the perimeter as well as or better than Gray is a short list – and you have one of the most versatile wingers in the sport, smack dab in the middle of her fame.
When players like her are in the commercial market, it will be essential for a good team to pounce. Her contract status can complicate things a bit; She has one year left on her deal, and plans per Williams to test the market off next season. But this is the kind of player you shouldn’t have a problem sticking with for the long haul.
Of the teams listed, I would probably give the Mystics the edge here.
In light of some front-court Dallas questions – Isabel Harrison is an uninhibited free agent who isn’t far from complaining about her playing time; Teaira McCowan is a restricted free agent with market value in the air due to style of play – the Mystics could use Myisha Hines-Allen to title a package. Beyond that, the Mystics have draft stock to use, including the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft.
Starting five from Cloud, Atkins, Gray, Delle Donne, and Rookie of the Year runner-up Shakira Austin (already Semi-elite defender) would challenge the Aces for the best unit in The W.
Of the teams not included in Williams’ report, I’m wondering if the New York Liberty could fit into the mix. They could definitely use more strikes in their stable surroundings options.
It was almost funny how better their defense looked – almost Five points for every 100 stingy possessions — when Betnijah Laney returned to spin after recovering from meniscus surgery. It was the only option for the Liberty winger who could defend credibly in the meantime also Draw the attention of defenders when running the ball.
Whoever lands it, you can put Gray’s name on the list of players whose acquisition could help shape this year’s title picture at The W.