The 2018 WNBA season has been marked with a number of trades and new signings. The league is set to grow in the coming years, but how will the next group of free agents enter the NBA? How many players will be eligible for this year’s draft?
The “wnba free agency 2022 predictions” is a list of all the possible teams that could be in the WNBA next year. The list includes which players are likely to sign with each team and what their projected win-loss record will be.
11th of January, 2022
Kevin Pelton is a British actor.
Senior Writer for ESPN
- Pro Basketball Prospectus series co-author
- Previously, he worked as a consultant with the Indiana Pacers.
- WARP rating and SCHOENE system were created.
Mechelle Voepel Mechelle Voepel Mechelle Voepel
- Mechelle Voepel Mechelle Voepel Mechelle Voepel is an espnW reporter that covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports. Voepel has been with ESPN since 1996 and has covered women’s basketball since 1984.
When WNBA free agency begins later this week, which clubs will have the greatest flexibility?
We predicted the top 20 free agents available last week. It’s now time to think about the team aspect of things. Which clubs have the greatest financial room to make significant signings, like as the Chicago Sky signing Candace Parker last season or the Phoenix Mercury adding Skylar Diggins-Smith in a sign-and-trade deal in 2020?
We go through the league, club by team, looking at available cap space (based on HerHoopStats.com cap sheets) and significant players reaching free agency. We’ll also see whether clubs haven’t decided whether or not to utilize the core designation by Friday, which would knock a player out of unrestricted free agency but lock them into a one-year contract for $228,094 in the WNBA.
Teams must also make qualifying offers to potential restricted free agents, enabling them to match any offer sheet from another club, as well as reserved players who can only negotiate with their present squad, by Friday.
Let’s take a look at how clubs approach free agency with that in mind.
$836,241 in cap space Courtney Williams, Tiffany Hayes, Odyssey Sims, Elizabeth Williams, and Monique Billings are among the key free agents (restricted)
After new ownership took over in February, the Dream recruited a new team president, general manager, and coach this past September-October. Atlanta has already said that Courtney Williams would not be brought back after her YouTube video last autumn made light of an argument she and teammate Crystal Bradford were engaged in in May. Last season, Courtney Williams led the Dream in points, rebounds, and assists, so she won’t be easy to replace.
Chennedy Carter, a fellow guard, played just 11 games in her second WNBA season and was suspended for the remainder of the year, therefore her situation is unknown. Dan Padover, the Dream’s new general manager, was a two-time executive of the year in Las Vegas and will now be in charge of the team’s rebuilding process, which includes the No. 3 overall selection. Voepel’s
$908,215 in cap space Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, Allie Quigley, Stefanie Dolson, and Diamond DeShields are key free agents (restricted)
Only Seattle and the reigning champion Sky have greater cap room. “We have a lot of free agents and choices that need to be made,” said Vandersloot, who has spent her entire 11-year WNBA career with the Sky. Coach/GM James Wade must determine how much of the band he wants to keep together with just four players under contract, two of whom are protected veterans (Candace Parker and Azurá Stevens).
On the one side, this squad was the first to win the franchise’s first championship. The Sky, on the other hand, concluded the regular season 16-16 and had to win the tournament as the No. 6 seed. Copper was the breakout star of the playoffs, so it’s reasonable to believe that Vandersloot and Quigley want to stay on the same team. They earned $559,000 combined last season, so will the Sky maintain all three and potentially bring in a fresh face or two? Will Copper or Vandersloot be designated as core? It’s worth remembering that Parker, Quigley, and Vandersloot will all be 36 years old before the start of the season. Voepel’s
Capacity: $505,484 Briann January is a key free agent.
Jonquel Jones, who received the core qualifying offer of $228,094 on Monday, is expected to get a large portion of the cap. We’ll see whether she agrees or prefers to negotiate a multi-year contract.
Last season, January earned $121,500; her 35th birthday is Jan. 11, but she hasn’t appeared to slow down much in terms of her defensive ability. Curt Miller’s decision-making process must include analyzing if anything was actually lacking in the playoffs that led the top-seeded Sun to lose in the semifinals, or whether it was just a matter of running into the Chicago Sky, a team of destiny.
Connecticut has been agonizingly close to winning a title, reaching Game 5 of the 2019 WNBA Finals, and a team that is remarkably similar to last year’s (with Alyssa Thomas healthy from the start of the season) might finally be the winning recipe. Voepel’s
$78,146 in cap space There are no key free agents.
The young Wings are in an uncommon situation this offseason: all 12 players from last year’s playoff squad are returning, forcing Dallas to renounce 2020 second-round selection Luisa Geiselsoder only to clear financial space. Consolidation should be the objective for the Wings, who have two selections in the top half of the first round (No. 4 and No. 6) in the WNBA draft. Dallas’ roster crunch could be alleviated by combining players and picks for a veteran upgrade via trade (or possibly a free agent in a sign-and-trade deal), especially after the team picked up the 2023 options on contracts for Bella Alarie, Tyasha Harris, and Satou Sabally, securing their salaries for that season. Pelton’s words
$431,669 in cap space Jessica Breland, Lindsay Allen (restricted), Julie Allemand (suspended, expired contract), Victoria Vivians are all key free agents (reserved)
The Fever have gone from a team that was always in the playoffs to one that doesn’t appear to know what it wants to accomplish next. Tamika Catchings, who retired as a player in 2016, is still working to match her effect as a general manager.
Breland has been a reliable senior striker for a long time, but he will be 34 when the season begins. The Fever might obtain a top college forward with the No. 2 selection, however lottery choices in recent years haven’t worked out so well for Indiana.
The Fever are in desperate need of a free-agent signing and/or trade, but it will need some front-office vigor we haven’t seen in a long time. Voepel’s
$724,968 in cap space A’ja Wilson (restricted), Liz Cambage, Riquna Williams, and Angel McCoughtry are all key free agents.
The team that new Aces coach Becky Hammon inherits may not be the same as the one that Bill Laimbeer guided to a league-best 42-12 record the previous two seasons. Wilson should return as a restricted free agent, but her expected rise from $70,040 in her rookie deal to a maximum of $196,267 may make it difficult for Las Vegas to re-sign all of the team’s seasoned free agents.
The Aces must first decide whether to utilize the core designation on Cambage, who was signed to that deal last season. Cambage’s next supermax contract would eat up a lot of Las Vegas’ remaining cap space. If the Aces want to keep their first-round selection, they’ll have to pay a maximum of $113,000 to keep either McCoughtry or Williams, but not both. Is it possible that Las Vegas may favor depth over Cambage as a result of this? We’ll find out as soon as possible. Pelton’s words
$157,417 in cap space Nia Coffey, Te’a Cooper (reserved), and Maria Vadeeva are key free agents (suspended — contract expired)
Forward Gabby Williams, who was acquired from Chicago last year, is the Sparks’ main newcomer. Despite the fact that Williams was unable to play for the Sparks, she extended her rookie deal for another year, giving Los Angeles nine players under contract and minimal cost flexibility to add to that group. Coffey, who averaged a career-high 8.3 points per game in her debut season with the Sparks, will almost certainly be brought back unless she is traded. Vadeeva’s return to the Sparks for the first time since 2019 looks unlikely, given that the Sparks can only offer a maximum of $97,000 without a trade. Pelton’s words
$432,198 in cap space Layshia Clarendon and Sylvia Fowles are two key free agents.
The Lynx are poised to have a quieter summer after last year’s signings of Natalie Achonwa, Kayla McBride, and Aerial Powers. Fowles’ future in Minnesota is the greatest unknown, as she might retire at the age of 36 or sign with another team as an unrestricted free agent. (Because Fowles has already played three years on a core deal, the Lynx no longer have that option.)
Minnesota would have around $135,000 available to re-sign Clarendon while rostering this year’s first-round selection if the reigning Defensive Player of the Year returns at a supermax contract. The Lynx’s ability to add a 12th player would be determined by any remaining cap space. Pelton’s words
$196,560 in cap space Rebecca Allen is a key free agent.
GM Jonathan Kolb and new coach Sandy Brondello recently discussed how much they appreciate the Liberty’s players, who are primarily extremely young. Despite the limited cap space, New York will continue to be aggressive. Bringing back Allen, who Brondello is acquainted with from their time together on the Australian national team, may be a sensible decision.
Last year, on Feb. 10, New York sold the No. 1 selection in the 2021 draft to acquire forward Natasha Howard, as well as guard Samatha Whitcomb in a separate transaction, and moved Kia Nurse and Megan Walker to Phoenix in exchange for draft choices. Last February, the Knicks also signed free agent wing Betnijah Laney.
The Liberty earned a playoff berth in 2021 and had rookie of the year Michaela Onyenwere, but they aren’t yet a championship-caliber squad. Voepel’s
$246,938 in cap space Sophie Cunningham, Kia Nurse (restricted), and Shey Peddy are key free agents (reserved)
On paper, Phoenix has some flexibility this summer, but that’s before cap holds for the team’s four available roster slots are taken into account. To give Nurse a qualifying offer and keep her limited rights, the Mercury would have to release a player with a non-guaranteed contract (most likely backup center Kia Vaughn, who is now due $110,000).
It’ll be intriguing to see how Phoenix handles Nurse’s free agency. She is unlikely to participate during the regular season after tearing her ACL during the team’s playoff run. Nurse would probably rather sit out next season to get fit and re-sign when she becomes available than be on the roster and count against the cap. A other club, on the other hand, may push the issue by giving Nurse a multiyear deal that runs through 2023 and beyond. Pelton’s words
$986,236 in cap space Sue Bird, Jordin Canada (restricted), Jewell Loyd, Mercedes Russell (restricted), Breanna Stewart, and Stephanie Talbot are all key free agents (restricted)
The Storm approach free agency as the club to watch, with six rotation players out of contract. On the one hand, this raises concerns, especially because Seattle can only utilize the core designation on one of Loyd and Stewart, leaving the other unconstrained. However, it also allows the Storm to enhance their squad by bringing in other competitors who aren’t bound by the pay limit.
Bird’s statement last week that she would return to the WNBA for a 19th season was the first domino for Seattle. If the Storm can secure rapid commitments from Loyd and Stewart, and Bird is prepared to accept less than the supermax once again, as Mechelle revealed last year, Seattle may search for veterans who want to win a title. The Storm must also deal with restricted free agency with starting center Russell, as well as crucial backups Canada and Talbot. In Seattle, expect a hectic few weeks. Pelton’s words
$456,900 in cap space Tina Charles, Leilani Mitchell, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, and Myisha Hines-Allen are key free agents (restricted)
Last season, Charles enjoyed another MVP-caliber season at the age of 32, but the Mystics missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Elena Delle Donne, the two-time MVP, returned after missing the whole 2020 season, but she only played three games before being sidelined again due to ongoing back troubles.
Emma Meesseman, the Mystics’ 2019 WNBA Finals MVP, was a free agent last season but did not play in the WNBA, and it’s unclear if she will return in 2022. The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup begins in September, and Meesseman’s commitment to Belgium may prevent her from participating in the WNBA this season.
Is it possible that Charles, Delle Donne, and Meesseman will ever play together? Perhaps. Even if the Mystics just have Charles, Delle Donne, and a healthy Alysha Clark this season, Washington will benefit. Voepel’s
The “wnba free agency 2022 start date” is the day on which the WNBA Free Agency begins. The league will begin accepting applications for players and teams to sign on July 1st, 2021.
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