Can Sky land Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith?

The WNBA has by no means seen extra participant motion in free company than within the final three years.

There are two contributing components for this improvement: a change within the collective-bargaining settlement and Candace Parker.

The brand new CBA — ratified in 2020 — was notable for a rise in participant salaries and modifications to the core designation tag. Earlier than 2020, groups might use the core tag on a participant as much as 4 instances. In 2020 and 2021, that was decreased to a few instances. From 2022 -onward, a participant could be given the core tag solely twice in her profession.

Enter Parker and her resolution to go away the Los Angeles Sparks and signal with the Sky in 2021, signaling the start of a brand new period in WNBA free company.

She was the primary celebrity within the league to go away the franchise that drafted her of her personal accord. In 2023, she did it once more, opting to signal with the Las Vegas Aces. In the meantime, Breanna Stewart was making the most important splash of the yr by signing with the New York Liberty as an unrestricted free agent after six seasons and two WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm, who drafted her in 2016.

This yr, it’s Nneka Ogwumike who’s inflicting a stir after her announcement that she wouldn’t be re-signing with the Sparks, who drafted her first total in 2012, in favor of a recent alternative with certainly one of 5 different groups.

Based on an ESPN report, Ogwumike has met with the Phoenix Mercury, Atlanta Dream and Sky. She is ready to satisfy with the Liberty and Storm earlier than making a choice.

Unrestricted free agent Alanna Smith agreed to phrases with the Minnesota Lynx, based on her agent, Sammy Wloszczowski of SIG Sports activities, after a season with the Sky through which she averaged 9.2 factors and 6.6 rebounds.

The Sky are working with $511,448 in cap area with seven roster spots to fill, six in the event that they plan to play with the league-minimum 11-player roster.

Ogwumike signed for underneath the usual max in her final season with the Sparks, however that doesn’t imply the eight-time All-Star and 2016 MVP received’t command a max deal in free company. Level guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who’s coming off a four-year supermax cope with the Mercury, is the opposite max participant the Sky’s new regime is actively pursuing.

However can the Sky afford each gamers, and are they even ?

Each match the tradition being developed in Chicago by first-time WNBA coach Teresa Weatherspoon. One other intriguing touchdown spot for the pair is Seattle.

The Storm have even much less cap area than the Sky, however coach Noelle Quinn might keep away from a rebuild by signing Ogwumike and Diggins-Smith. Quinn’s staff completed eleventh within the league in 2023 however was capable of signal five-time All-Star Jewell Loyd to an extension. Loyd’s resolution to forgo the free-agent market was a press release of confidence within the course of the franchise, which is scheduled to open a state-of-the-art participant facility earlier than the beginning of the season.

The league’s commonplace max contract in ’24 is $208,219, and the supermax is $241,984.

Neither Ogwumike nor Diggins-Smith qualifies for a supermax cope with the Sky or Storm however might internet that pay commonplace through a sign-and-trade cope with their former groups.

The Sky don’t have a lot draft capital to supply in a sign-and-trade deal however might bundle a number of of their protected veteran contracts (guard Marina Mabrey’s or ahead Isabelle Harrison’s).

Mabrey was the Sky’s No. 2 scorer in 2023, whereas Harrison sat out after tearing her left meniscus in Might. Touchdown Diggins-Smith would crowd the Sky’s backcourt, prompting hypothesis a couple of sign-and-trade for the six-time All-Star that features Mabrey.

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