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Breanna Stewart, Napheesa Collier creating new offseason league to offer WNBA players chance to stay in U.S.

WNBA prioritization rule forces players to look for other opportunities as overseas seasons cut short.

Phoenix Mercury v New York Liberty Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty and Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx are reportedly founding a new women’s basketball league that would allow WNBA players to remain in the United States in the offseason. The league is going to be called Unrivaled and will run from January to March, beginning with 30 players split up into six teams.

The WNBA has a short season and does not pay as much as many other professional leagues, so many athletes choose to go overseas and play in international leagues in the offseason to supplement their income. The goal of Unrivaled would be to come close to matching the WNBA season salary in the offseason league.

The league would featured three-on-three and one-on-one matchups in a unique format. This is in response to the WNBA’s new prioritization rule, which requires that players return from their overseas commitments in time for training camp to start. This was decided on in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. Since the contracts overseas are often more lucrative than their WNBA salaries, the prioritization rule could severely affect players’ earnings and contract opportunities.