WNBA free agency news 2023: Las Vegas Aces sign Opal Cayla George to join Candace Parker on super team
Opals superstar Cayla George returns to the WNBA by adding Australian flavor to a ‘super team’ that shocked the basketball world.
The WNBA’s newest super team, Las Vegas Aces, just got even more stacked with the addition of Australian Opals star Cayla George.
On the heels of the shock reveal of basketball great Candace Parker, the Aces have signed World Cup bronze medalist George to a one-year contract.
Vegas, along with a number of other WNBA clubs, sued the 33-year-old after her tournament-winning performances in Sydney and George is delighted to return to the big leagues with new baby Pearl and husband Kailou .
The South African-born great is set to play a major role in one of the most stacked teams in WNBA history, alongside Parker, double-league MVP A’ja Wilson, first-team All-WNBA Kelsey Plum and MVP Chelsea from last year’s WNBA Finals. Grey.
“The Aces liked what I was doing at the World Cup on and off the pitch, they liked what I brought culturally to a group,” George said.
“Their first question was ‘is this something you even want to do’ and they said ‘this is what we see for you’.
“I had never been approached like that by a WNBA team.
“I’m so overwhelmed with the excitement and the opportunity to play on a great team and have a shot at winning a WNBA championship.”
It’s a reunion – of sorts – with a childhood hero in Parker, whom she met over a decade ago at AIS.
“I look up to her and she’s been one of the greatest for a very long time,” George said of her legendary new teammate.
“I met her when I was 17 when Team USA was playing Opals games at the AIS Arena.
“I will definitely show her the picture I have with her.
“She has her young son and daughter there, so we’ll have a little nursery at the Aces.”
George backed up his rose-gold World Cup efforts, dominating the WNBL with defending champion Melbourne Boomers in the hunt for his fifth league title.
His numbers on a team that has held a top-two spot for most of the season are MVP-worthy:
> Third in the WNBL with 18.6 per game
> Second in rebounds at 11.9 and three-pointers at 2.6 per game
> Top 10 for assists (4.7), steals (1.8), blocks (0.8) and free throw percentage (85.7)
The Aces get a battle-hardened star with height (193cm) who can do it all – score the ball, shoot three, rebound, defend and lead.
George has already spent three seasons in the WNBA with Dallas and Phoenix, the last in 2018. She says she feels better equipped now, for the rigors of the big show and relishes the opportunity to learn from head coach Beccy Hammon.
“I added a few things on the pitch and I’m more stable in many ways,” she said.
“Pearl gives me a lot of perspective in life – my life is all about her now, so it definitely gives a fresher mindset and I’m playing a little more freely and not thinking as much.
“I’m a full-fledged veteran now and have a lot more experience — two World Cups and the Olympics since.
“I’m 34 and I probably feel better, mentally and physically, than I’ve ever felt in my life.
“As soon as you’re 30, everyone thinks ‘you’re going to retire’ and I was like ‘yes, I’m not quite ready for this conversation’.
“I feel like I can bring a lot (to the WNBA) and mentally I can’t wait to go out there and show that I can compete in this league.”
George said that as far as Kailou and Pearl are concerned, it’s an in, but his four dogs – Coco, Caesar, Havana and Stanley – will have to stay home with his mother in Cairns and just walk around with the Boomers teammate Penina Davidson, who will spend the offseason playing with the Dolphins.
“The thought of being away from the dogs is probably the hardest thing, but it’ll be fine,” laughed George.
Originally published as Opal Cayla George to return to WNBA with Las Vegas Aces