Diamond DeShields’ future with Sky in question

DeShields’ free-agency status is fluid right now. Her agent, Mike Cound, said she has met with half the league via Zoom and has narrowed her choice down to three serious contenders as of Thursday.

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“Honestly, I don’t really see myself being back [in Chicago] unfortunately,” Diamond DeShields said.

“Honestly, I don’t really see myself being back [in Chicago] unfortunately,” Diamond DeShields said.

Eileen T. Meslar/AP

The Sky selecting Diamond DeShields third overall in the WNBA Draft in 2018 was a precursor of the success that awaited them.

Four years later, however, her future in Chicago is in doubt.

DeShields has been the Sky’s best draft pick in the last five years. Then-general manager Amber Stocks thought she would be a franchise player the Sky could build a championship team around. And she looked the part, too, especially in her first two seasons.

DeShields made an instant impact when she teamed up with Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, averaging 14.4 points, five rebounds and 2.2 assists in her rookie season. She was a WNBA All-Star in her second season.

Two years later, DeShields is coming off a WNBA championship with the franchise that drafted her, but she doesn’t see a future with the team.

‘‘Honestly, I don’t really see myself being back [in Chicago], unfortunately,’’ said DeShields, who is a restricted free agent. ‘‘It’s not something I ever envisioned for myself or thought would happen, but things change, feelings change and people change.’’

DeShields’ situation is fluid right now. Her agent, Mike Cound, said DeShields has taken meetings with half the league via Zoom and has narrowed her choice to three serious contenders. DeShields also said she has been in communication with Sky coach/general manager James Wade.

A key in the process is finding a team that sees her as a starter and a franchise player. Last season, it became clear to DeShields that no longer was the case with the Sky.

The 2020 season marked a significant turning point in DeShields’ time with the Sky. In the coronavirus bubble, she dealt with a lingering knee injury that cut her season short and required surgery. She averaged 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 13 games that season.

By last season, it became apparent — with Candace Parker in the fold and Kahleah Copper on the rise — that the team no longer was being built around DeShields. Wade made adjustments to his starting rotation midway through the season, moving Quigley into the starting five in place of DeShields.

Wade extended a qualifying offer to DeShields on Jan. 2, and the Sky can match any offer she receives.

Although her return to Chicago is questionable at this point, nothing is off the table until a contract is signed. That can happen starting Feb. 1.

‘‘I love Chicago,’’ DeShields said from Italy, where she is playing during the offseason. ‘‘I love what we’ve been able to build there. It’s different for those of us who were there when Wintrust was empty and even before then, the ones who played in Rosemont. I’m really thankful that I was part of bringing a championship to the city that I’ve come to know and call home.’’

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