Kahleah Copper will sign multiyear deal with the Sky

The exact terms of Copper’s deal were not disclosed but a league source told the Sun-Times pending any last-minute changes it will be a two-year deal.

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The Sky will sign Kahleah Copper to a multiyear deal.

The Sky will sign Kahleah Copper to a multiyear deal.

Paul Beaty/AP

When fans think of the Sky, they think of Kahleah Copper.

At least, that’s how Sky coach/general manager responded when asked last fall what kind of priority it will be for him to re-sign the WNBA Finals MVP. After arriving in a trade for two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Copper has become an All-Star, Finals MVP and now the future of the Sky franchise.

Monday, the Sky took another step toward solidifying their 2022 roster, finalizing a multiyear deal with Copper a team source told the Sun-Times. The deal can’t become official until Tuesday, the first day of the free-agent signing period, but Copper’s return was expected.

Following the Sky’s championship season, Copper penned a personal letter in the Players Tribune and finished it with a question.

“Chicago — y’all ready for another run at this thing,” Copper wrote.

Wade used the core designation on Copper on Jan. 12 which comes with a one-year supermax qualifying offer. The exact terms of Copper’s deal were not disclosed but a league source told the Sun-Times pending any last-minute changes it will be a two-year deal.

Copper’s evolution with the Sky has been a disciplined journey.

When she arrived in 2017, Copper was averaging 6.7 points and 1.9 rebounds coming off the bench for the Sky. That season she made it her priority to impact the team in other ways, coming up with pregame handshakes and celebrations to get her teammates hyped.

On the court, she put her head down and worked hard at being ready whenever she was tapped. In 2019 Wade joined the Sky and brought with him a new energy and brand of basketball. His presence energized the team and led to instant success. In his first year with the Sky, they were back in the playoffs for the first time in two seasons.

In 2021 Copper averaged 14.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 32 games for the Sky. When the playoffs came around, she stepped it up a notch averaging 17.7 points en route to the Sky’s first WNBA title.

Many called it a breakout year, but Wade and her teammates characterized it differently saying her talent and competitiveness was on display every day, the world was finally taking notice.

In the WNBA bubble is when Copper really took center stage, a credit to her work ethic and the mentality that she’d be ready whenever Wade called on her. Copper was moved into the starting lineup in 2020 after starting just 15 games in four seasons.

That year she averaged 14.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 20 games.

Coming into the 2021 season Copper told Wade she wanted to become an All-Star and help lead the team to its first championship and she did. Ahead of the 2022 season Copper is talking about ways she can make herself even more unguardable, adding a more consistent three-point shot and becoming a better passer are two ways she plans to do that.

This is the first move in what will be a very busy free-agent offseason for the Sky. In order for the team to truly contend for back-to-back titles, Wade will need to bring back his remaining core players: Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley.

Wade will also be tasked with finding a replacement for Stefanie Dolson who agreed to terms on a multi-year deal with the New York Liberty on Sunday. One intriguing option is unrestricted free agent Emma Meesseman.

Meesseman’s last contract was a veteran max worth $215,000. Even if Copper’s deal is worth less than the supermax it would be a challenge for the Sky to fit that contract assuming they re-sign Vandersloot and Quigley for contracts similar to 2021.

Meessman is currently an overseas teammate of Vandersloot and Quigley on UMMC Ekaterinburg and has ties to Sky assistant Ann Wauters. Team-friendly deals are common in the WNBA, especially for teams with true championship potential.

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