Who is winning WNBA free agency?

The Sky will be the team to beat in 2022 as they look to defend their title.

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When considering WNBA free agency two weeks into the signing period, many teams appeared to have the Sky beaten in terms of moves made and players signed.

That was until Courtney Vandersloot agreed to terms Friday on a one-year contract to return to the Sky, a league source confirmed to the Sun-Times.

Coach/general manager James Wade has said his priority is to keep the Sky’s core intact. Assuming that core is the starting five at the end of last season, there is just one piece missing: Allie Quigley.

Before we get into Vandersloot’s re-signing and the likelihood of Quigley’s return, let’s take a look at some of the other winners:


The Mercury have gone all-in on another title run, acquiring former Sky star Diamond DeShields in a three-team trade that included the Fever and signing unrestricted free agent Tina Charles. On top of those moves, they re-signed All-Star wing Kia Nurse, who is expected to return sometime this season after tearing a ligament in her knee less than a minute into the Mercury’s loss to the Aces in Game 4 of the semifinals last season.

Adding DeShields and Charles to a team that already features Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner is a winning combination, especially for a club that was already a title contender without them.

Taurasi is under contract through 2022, and the Mercury are giving her the best shot at winning her — and their — fourth title.


Sue Bird’s return makes the Storm instant free-agency winners. Although Bird hasn’t officially re-signed, when she announced her farewell season Jan. 13, it was all about who would stay with her.

The Storm’s first step in solidifying a title-contending team around Bird was using the core designation on Jewell Loyd. They re-signed Breanna Stewart to a one-year supermax deal and Loyd to a multiyear deal. With the big three secured, the Storm re-signed Mercedes Russell and signed Briann January. Acquiring Gabby Williams in a trade with the Sparks was one of their last significant moves.

If the Storm can stay healthy, they will be among the WNBA’s favorite in 2022.


Los Angeles has been renamed ‘‘Liz Angeles’’ by WNBA fans after ESPN reported that unrestricted free agent Liz Cambage would sign with the Sparks. After losing Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray in free agency last year, which led to the franchise missing the playoffs for only the fifth time in its history, the reported signing of Cambage provides a jolt but doesn’t guarantee success.

Signing hometown star Jordin Canada was another step in the right direction, along with a trade that brought in Chennedy Carter. Those moves, combined with healthy sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, might bring the Sparks back to playoff contention.


Before free agency began, Vandersloot said her decision would depend on what kind of team Wade was able to put together for 2022.

Re-signing WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to a multiyear deal was not only critical to the Sky’s hopes of repeating as champions but also to securing Vandersloot’s return. Add in the signing of 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman, who is teammates with Vandersloot and Quigley with UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, and Wade sent a clear message he was building another title contender.

On Friday, Vandersloot agreed to terms with the Sky on a one-year deal to bolster their pursuit of back-to-back titles in what might be their version of The Last Dance. Parker will be in the last year of her contract in 2022, as will Azura Stevens.

On an episode of the ‘‘Equal Play’’ podcast after the Sky’s championship season, Wade said it would be fair to assume Vandersloot and Quigley would be back in 2022. With Vandersloot officially secured, it all but guarantees Quigley will be back, too. 

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