WNBA free agency officially began on January 15, which allowed teams across the league to discuss potential deals with reserved players, along with restricted and unrestricted free agents.
However, those free-agent deals and offer sheets cannot be finalized until February 1. There are a ton of great unrestricted free agents such as Breanna Stewart, Tina Charles, Sue Bird, Liz Cambage, Stefanie Dolson, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, and Courtney Williams.
Along with those UFAs, we also saw Kahleah Cooper, Jonquel Jones, and Jewell Loyd listed as core players by their respective teams. Core players is a designation that gives a team exclusive negotiating rights with a player, according to the WNBA’s website.
However, a player is not eligible to be given this core designation beginning this year, if they have played pursuant to a core player contract for more than two-plus seasons. We’ll be tracking the latest rumors and signings during the league’s free agency period below.
Liz Cambage verbally commits to the Los Angeles Sparks
Unrestricted free-agent center Liz Cambage verbally committed to play for the Los Angeles Sparks Saturday night, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. Shelbourne adds that the four-time All-Star is expected to play a major role with the Sparks alongside Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Oguwmike once the deal is signed.
Cambage spent the last two seasons with the Las Vegas Aces, where she was an All-Star and create a dynamic duo in the frontcourt with A’ja Wilson. The second overall pick had 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season. In addition to the expected signing of Cambage, the Sparks also made a blockbuster trade with the Atlanta Dream on Saturday to acquire point guard Chennedy Carter.
Vandersloot, Quigley likely returning to the Chicago Sky
Veterans Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley are both very likely to return to the Chicago Sky for next season, per Khristina Williams. The VanderQuigs played a significant role in the team’s run to the WNBA Finals last season.
Vandersloot averaged 10.5 points, 8.6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in the regular season. But she had an outstanding postseason, averaging a double-double consisting of 13.0 points and 10.2 assists per game. Meanwhile, Quigley produced 13.2 points per game during the regular season and shot 45.4% from three-point range. In the playoffs, she averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 36.5% from beyond the arc.
Phoenix Mercury bringing Sophie Cunningham back
The sharpshooter is coming back to the Mercury. After the team declined her fourth-year option, Cunningham broke out in the WNBA playoffs with some big shooting performances and now has a new deal in the desert.
Sylvia Fowles returning to the Minnesota Lynx for her final season in the WNBA
The Minnesota Lynx announced on Tuesday that one of the league's most decorated players in Sylvia Fowles is returning for her 15th and final season in the WNBA. Fowles had another terrific season in 2021, where she averaged a double-double consisting of 16 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Fowles will be entering her eighth season with Minnesota after spending the first several years of her career with the Chicago Sky, where she averaged 15.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
FOR HER FINAL SEASON...— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) February 1, 2022
Jonquel Jones re-signs with Connecticut
The Connecticut Sun announced on Tuesday that last season’s WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones is returning to the team. Jones was one of three players this offseason who was given a core designation by their respective team. The three-time All-Star center had one of her best seasons in the WNBA, averaging 19.4 points (career-high), 11.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Her play on the floor was one of the reasons why the Sun were a threat to win the WNBA title last season.
Breanna Stewart re-signs with Seattle on one-year deal
Stewart is signing a one-year supermax deal to return to the Storm, per Chris Haynes. It does not come as a surprise to see Stewart coming back to Seattle, despite her meeting with the Liberty a couple of weeks ago. With her only signing a one-year deal, it signifies that the Storm are going to run it back for Sue Bird’s last year. But after that, everything is on the table for next offseason.
The Storm got bounced early in the playoffs by the Phoenix Mercury, who went on to play in the WNBA Finals. Stewart did not play in Seattle’s last few games due to injury, which was a significant blow to their offense. With Bird, Stewart, and Jewell Loyd in the fold, the Storm should be back at the top of the league competing for a WNBA title.
Phoenix Mercury likely to sign Tina Charles
UPDATE: Holly Rowe said on ESPN’s WNBA Free Agency special Tuesday that Charles is likely to join the Mercury for the 2022 season (h/t Sabreena Merchant).
The Phoenix Mercury, who were last season’s runner-up in the WNBA Finals, are expressing interesting in free-agent center Tina Charles, per Khristina Williams of GirlsTalkSportsTV.
Charles is one of the notable free-agent front court options, alongside Liz Cambage and Breanna Stewart. Last season with the Mystics, Charles had a dominant season with 23.4 points (career-high) and 9.6 rebounds per game. The eight-time All-Star also shot 44.9% from the field and a career-high 36.5% from three-point range. If the Mercury sign Charles, she would join Brittney Griner in the front court.
Chicago Sky to re-sign Kahleah Copper to two-year deal
Along with the addition of Meesseman, the Sky made sure to bring back one of their key players from last season’s title run. Chicago finalized a multi-year deal with 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper on Monday, per Annie Costabile.
Costabile also added that it will be a two-year deal for Copper, who was given the core designation earlier this month by head coach James Wade. The former first-round pick was a star in the playoffs, averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. With Copper back in the fold, the Sky appear to make another title run next season.
Emma Meesseman agrees to deal with Chicago Sky
2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman agreed to a deal with the Sky on Monday, per Annie Costabile of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cotasbile adds that terms of the deal haven’t been discussed.
Meesseman did not play last season due to overload, but had an incredible 2019 playoffs with the Washington Mystics. The veteran forward averaged 19.3 points per game and shot 58.2% from the field and 58.1% from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game.
Stefanie Dolson to sign with New York Liberty
Free agent center Stefanie Dolson agreed to terms to a multi-year deal with the New York Liberty, per Chantel Jennings of The Athletic. Free agents deals and offer sheets cannot be finalized until February 1.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Dolson had narrowed down her choices to the Liberty and Seattle Storm. Dolson spent the last five seasons with the Sky and helped them win a title last season. The veteran center averaged 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 24 games played last year.
Breanna Stewart meets with New York Liberty
The 27-year-old forward and multiple-time Olympian Breanna Stewart met with the New York Liberty last week in Los Angeles, per Chris B. Hayes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes added that Stewart’s meeting included Liberty owners Joe and Clara Tsai, new head coach Sandy Brondello, and etc.
If the superstar forward were to leave the Seattle Storm for New York, it would make the Liberty an instant contender for the WNBA title. New York already has a solid core of players led by Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu, Natasha Howard, Sami Whitcomb, and Rookie of the Year award winner Michaela Onyenwere. However, I would still expect Stewie to go back to the Storm and run it back with Loyd and Bird.
Riquna Williams expected to return to Aces next season
Unrestricted free-agent guard Riquna Williams is expected to return to the Las Vegas Aces for the 2022 season, per Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV.
B. Terrell confirmed Williams’ report and added that on Monday that the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, and Phoenix Mercury expressed interested in the veteran guard. Last season with the Aces, Williams averaged 10.5 points per game, while shooting 44.4% from the field and 41.7% from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.