Breanna Stewart heads to New York on first day of WNBA free agency | Pro Sports

Breanna Stewart heads to New York on first day of WNBA free agency | Pro Sports

Breanna Stewart couldn’t turn down a chance to play in New York and potentially help the Liberty win their first WNBA championship.

This offseason’s most coveted free agent, who won the WNBA MVP award in 2018, announced on social media that she was heading to New York with a photo of herself in a Liberty shirt on Wednesday. Stewart had spent her entire career in Seattle since the Storm drafted their first-place finish overall in 2016. She won two championships with the team in 2018 and 2020.

“I decided to go to New York because I wanted to continue being great. And I wanted to go where I think I can help this league improve, raise the bar,” Stewart said in an interview. on ESPN. “I wonder why not go to the biggest market in all of sports. I’m excited to go after their first championship.

The 28-year-old winger averaged 20.3 points and 8.6 rebounds during his WNBA career. She missed the 2019 season due to an Achilles tendon injury.

“New York is a basketball city, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” Stewart said.

Coming to New York brings Stewart closer to home. She grew up in Syracuse, an hour’s flight from New York. It’s also an easier flight to Spain to see his wife Marta’s family.

Representatives from New York, including coach Sandy Brondello and co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, met with Stewart in Turkey last week. Stewart had narrowed his choices to Seattle and New York before choosing the Liberty.

The move turns the Liberty into an instant championship contender. New York is one of the original WNBA franchises but has never won a championship. The Liberty have already added 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones and Kayla Thornton in a three-way deal to complement 2020 No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu.

“I think this group has a ton of potential, a lot of amazing players,” Stewart said. “Altruism helps us to stand out from others.”

The news was met with joy on social media by Jones, Ionescu and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, who said in a podcast that he had contacted Stewart to bring her to New York.

Stewart was the second high-profile free agent to announce plans to play for another team this season. Candace Parker said Saturday she was going to sign with the Las Vegas Aces and officially did so on Wednesday.

“As I’ve been through free agency this time around, of course I’m thinking about where I can compete for my third championship, but the words ‘home’ and ‘family’ are what I come back to without stop,” Parker said. “After evaluating the landscape with my family, we decided that the Las Vegas Aces was the right organization for us at this point in our lives. Playing for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I can’t wait. to continue the trip this summer in Las Vegas.

Wednesday was the first day free agents could sign with teams. Other moves announced include Brittney Sykes with Washington, Lexie Brown and Stephanie Talbot with Los Angeles, Teaira McCowan with Dallas and Alysha Clark with Las Vegas.

Many free agents were waiting for Stewart to make his decision, including Courtney Vandersloot.

Vandersloot announced Tuesday night on social media that she would not be returning to Chicago, where she had spent her entire career. She led the league in assists six times during her 12-year career and helped Sky win the 2021 WNBA Championship.

“For the Sky organization who recruited the little guard of a mid major and believed in me from the jump, I couldn’t have asked for better,” Vandersloot wrote on Instagram. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have achieved my dreams thanks to you. Although I never expected this day to come, I decided it was time for me to pursue a fresh start.

Stewart and Vandersloot are currently playing together in Turkey.

“My message to Sloot is that she knows I love playing with her, but I’m going to support her in whatever decisions she makes,” Stewart said. basketball, those decisions are made behind. That’s life.

While Stewart and Vandersloot will play for different WNBA teams this season, Brittney Griner, who is also a free agent, announced in December, upon her return from her 10-month ordeal in Russia, that she planned to stay with the Phoenix. Mercury. Her longtime Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi is also a free agent, but she too is expected to return to Phoenix.

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