Predictions for the Sky’s 2023 free agents

The period for qualifying offers is Jan. 11-20, and beginning on Jan. 21, players can engage in contract negotiations. On Feb. 1, players can begin signing.

SHARE Predictions for the Sky’s 2023 free agents
Courtney Vandersloot was drafted by the Sky in 2011 with the third overall pick and has played her entire career in Chicago.

Courtney Vandersloot was drafted by the Sky in 2011 with the third overall pick and has played her entire career in Chicago.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

It’s that time again when everyone commits to better gym routines, eating healthier, sleeping better and other life-changing goals. As always, the new year is associated with change.

And for the Sky in 2023, there will be plenty of it.

Coach and general manager James Wade, who has the highest winning percentage of any Sky coach and was the 2022 executive of the year, is locked in through the 2025 season. But little else is guaranteed to stay the same. Five members of the roster will become unrestricted free agents in the new year, and according to HerHoopStats.com, Wade will have $931,801 in cap space to re-sign players or go after others.

The period for qualifying offers is Jan. 11-20, and beginning on Jan. 21, players can engage in contract negotiations. On Feb. 1, players can begin signing.

Here are predictions for the Sky’s unrestricted free agents:

Courtney Vandersloot

After years of re-signing without hesitation while watching franchise player after franchise player leave the Sky, Vandersloot, the No. 3 overall pick of 2011, is now entertaining her options. She made good on her goal of bringing a championship to the team that drafted her. But a year later, she also suffered one of the hardest losses of her career when the Sky were eliminated by the Sun in the semifinals in September.

There’s no way that Vandersloot, known for her competitive nature, could leave on that note, right? She’ll be back to make up for that harrowing playoff exit, right?

Wrong.

During the semifinals, she told the Sun-Times that as much as she hates change, she knows it’s something she needs in order to continue improving as a player. After 12 years with the same team, what’s a more significant change than joining a new one?

Prediction: Vandersloot, who’s originally from the Seattle area, signs a one-year deal with the Storm.

Allie Quigley

After playing for four different teams in her first four years in the WNBA, Quigley, who starred at DePaul, signed with the hometown Sky in 2013 and became one of the league’s greatest shooters. During All-Star weekend this past July, she became the first player from either the WNBA or NBA to win four three-point shooting contests.

For the last two years, she has been open about contemplating retirement. Although she hasn’t made a decision about next season, according to her agent, she was candid about the subject after the Sky’s playoff ouster.

“The game has given me more than I ever could have imagined,” Quigley said. “I never imagined it ending up like this or having the career I’ve had, especially doing it in Chicago with my family, and meeting my wife [Vandersloot]. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It was a dream come true.”

Prediction: Quigley retires after 14 seasons.

Candace Parker

Much like Quigley, Parker has been on retirement watch since last year, maintaining that when she’s no longer able to play at the standard to which she holds herself, she’ll hang it up. Last month, she indicated she was planning on returning for her 16th WNBA season.

“Right now, yeah, I’m game,” she said on sportswriter Richard Deitsch’s sports-media podcast.

Parker, who grew up in Naperville, cites Vandersloot’s role in convincing her to sign a two-year deal with the Sky in 2021. During this free-agency period, it could be Parker trying to convince Vandersloot to return for one more year together.

Prediction: Parker re-signs for one year with the Sky.

Azurá Stevens

In three seasons in Chicago, Stevens has shown she deserves a starting role in the WNBA, and there are a number of teams with which she’d fit in seamlessly. The Sky are one of them, but her return is contingent upon her role.

If Stevens is part of the foundation Wade builds the future on, along with Kahleah Copper, she’ll return. But she isn’t going to come back to average 22 minutes per game.

Prediction: Stevens signs a multiyear deal with the Sky.

Emma Meesseman

Signing Meesseman was the move that solidified Wade’s status as executive of the year. The Belgian forward fit easily into the Sky’s system in place of Stefanie Dolson and had years of experience playing with Vandersloot, Quigley and others in the organization.

However, throughout last season, Meesseman was vocal about being unable to spend enough time with family. The WNBA’s new prioritization rule adds another layer to her struggle, requiring players to be in the market by the start of training camp or face a fine and to be in the market by the start of the season or be forced to forgo it. During exit interviews, Meesseman was adamant that the rule doesn’t take international players into consideration.

Prediction: Meesseman opts out of the 2023 WNBA season.

The Latest
‘‘I don’t like the way the play was called,’’ Grifol said before the Sox’ 6-4 loss Friday to the Orioles.
“And that’s on getting a win in a packed arena, not just cause of one player on our charter flight,” Reese shared in a since-deleted post on X, formerly Twitter.
Notes: Lefty Drew Smyly likely will be activated this weekend in St. Louis.
Imanaga originally was scheduled to pitch Friday, but when the game was postponed, the Cubs pushed his start to the next series in Milwaukee.