Days before Sky coach and general manager James Wade trimmed his roster to 11 players ahead of the 2021 WNBA season, he put forward Gabby Williams on the full-season suspended list.
Three days later, Williams was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks for rookie Stephanie Watts and the rights to Leonie Fiebich. Once the move was finalized, Wade opened up that it was a trade Williams had requested in April.
‘‘I was told that she would never play for Chicago again,’’ Wade said.
Wade said it was communicated to Williams’ team that he would be putting her on the full-season suspended list if she was unable to begin the season with the Sky.
The Sky will start the season with nine players, with rookie Shyla Heal under COVID-19 protocol and Azura Stevens playing on a minutes restriction. After the Sky’s season opener Saturday against the Washington Mystics, they will lose Stefanie Dolson to Team USA’s 3x3 Olympic qualifying team.
Team USA opens pool play May 27 against Indonesia and closes it May 29 against Germany and Uruguay. Dolson isn’t expected to return to the Sky until the middle of June, at which point Astou Ndour will leave to represent Spain in EuroBasket.
Wade said he requested that Williams return to the Sky in a similar capacity, like Ndour. He wanted her to participate in training camp and leave in June to compete with the French national team in EuroBasket.
‘‘She didn’t want to do that,’’ Wade said.
The Sparks had an opportunity to trade for Williams before she was suspended.
Ultimately, Wade said he made the decision to suspend her because he couldn’t afford to be down another player but said he would continue to pursue trade options. After Williams’ suspension, the Sparks and the Sky were able to agree on a trade.
Wade said he thought Williams wanted a bigger role, and that wasn’t going to be the case with the Sky. He said there’s no doubt Williams will be a starter in the WNBA.
‘‘To be on a championship team, players 1 to 11 are important,’’ Wade said. ‘‘Sometimes it’s hard to please players 8 and 9.’’
Multiple requests to Williams’ agent for comment went unanswered.