Star guard Courtney Vandersloot will sign with the New York Liberty, he announced Thursday, further strengthening the Liberty’s prospects of winning the franchise’s first championship in the near future.
The Liberty, the only active original franchise still without a title, made the biggest splash in free agency by drafting Vandersloot, signing Breana Stewart and trading Jonquel Jones. Stewart and Jones won the league’s MVP awards in 2018 and 2021, respectively, and are considered the top three in the world.
#breaking: Courtney Vandersloot signs with the New York Liberty
— Courtney Vandersloot (@Sloot22) February 2, 2023
Vandersloot’s contract details are still being negotiated as the Liberty decide how to match his and Stewart’s salaries under the league’s hard cap, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Stewart, a two-time Finals MVP who currently plays alongside Vandersloot at Turkish team Fenerbahce, opted for New York on Wednesday and is expected to take significantly less money so the Liberty can add Vandersloot, per ESPN sources said.
Vandersloot, a four-time All-Star and five-time All-WNBA selection, is widely regarded as one of the best point guards in league history. After becoming the first WNBA player to average double-digit assists in a season in 2020, she led the Chicago Sky to the franchise’s first championship in 2021.
Vandersloot spent her entire WNBA career with the Sky, who signed her No. 3 pick out of Gonzaga in 2011, before announcing via Instagram on Monday that she will not be returning to Chicago in 2023.
ESPN previously reported that Vandersloot is also considering the Sky, Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm, and that his free agency decision will affect Stewart. Vandersloot grew up in Kent, Washington, not far from Seattle, so joining the Storm would be a homecoming of sorts for the guard, whose jersey will also be retired at Gonzaga later this month.
A source close to the situation told ESPN that Vandersloot had a hard time saying no to the Hurricanes.
Vandersloot’s wife and former Chicago teammate, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, has sat out the 2023 WNBA season, but is not officially retiring.
New York, which has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, will set its sights on a championship in 2023, bringing Vandersloot, Stewart and Jones to 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu. .
While Ionescu can play guard, she fared much better in the 2022 season, securing her first All-Star and All-WNBA honors as she moved into an off-ball role with Crystal Dangerfield scoring. Vandersloot should then slide well alongside Ionescu at the back.
On paper, New York’s toughest opponent appears to be the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, who not only return two-time MVP Aja Wilson, 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and All-WNBA selection Kelsey Plum, but signed two-time MVP Candace. Parker and two-time champion Alisha Clark earlier this week.