The Sky drafted Diamond DeShields third overall in 2018 with the hope she would become a franchise player.
Almost four years later, DeShields is heading to the Mercury in a three-way trade that also includes the Fever.
The Mercury get DeShields and sends Bria Hartley to the Fever. The Fever also will receive Phoenix’s second-round picks in 2022 and 2023. The Sky will send the No. 7 pick this year and their first-round pick in 2023 to Indiana. The Sky receive Julie Allemand from the Fever and the Mercury’s 2023 first-round pick.
DeShields received a fully protected, two-year contract for $150,000 in the first year and $154,500 in the second, according to a league source.
In her first year with the Sky, DeShields started all but one game she played in and averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists. She was named an All-Star in her second year.
DeShields’ trajectory with the Sky began to change in 2020. During the WNBA bubble season, she dealt with a lingering knee injury that ended her season prematurely and required surgery. She averaged 6.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 13 games.
Upon her return in 2021, she was vocal about working back to her full capabilities. Halfway through the season, coach James Wade made a change to the starting lineup, replacing DeShields with Allie Quigley.
DeShields averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 27 minutes en route to the Sky’s first WNBA championship. After the confetti settled, DeShields was adamant that she wanted to return to the Sky but as a starter.
“I don’t belong on the bench,” DeShields said in November. “I played the role because that’s what I was called to do [in 2021]. I did that as gracefully as I could, but that’s not the role I want.”
DeShields is joining a Mercury team that gave the Sky a fight in the Finals but ultimately lost the best-of-five series in four games. She fills a hole on the wing in a lineup with Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner and potentially Tina Charles.
Since she arrived in Chicago, DeShields made her presence felt. She gave back to the community with events, most recently an eye clinic that brought free eye exams to more than 100 kids and their families at KIPP Bloom College Prep.
Two weeks ago, DeShields spoke honestly about not seeing herself returning to Chicago.
“It’s not something I ever envisioned for myself or thought would happen, but things change, feelings change and people change,” she said.
UMMC Ekaterinburg is pursuing the option of paying Courtney Vandersloot to sit out the WNBA season. This sign-and-trade deal gives the Sky security. Allemand also would be a great backup if Vandersloot chooses to return to the Sky.
“The fact as a rookie she was second in the league in assists and three-point percentage all the while playing over 30 minutes a game,” Wade said. “Those are things rookies don’t tend to come in the league and do, especially at the point guard position.”
Allemand was selected in the 2016 WNBA draft but didn’t play until the 2020 season. She sat out last season to play with the Belgian national team.
Wade’s move follows his re-signing of -Finals MVP Kahleah Copper and signing of 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman. He also added Crystal Bradford on a training-camp contract.