Sky acquire center Li Yueru in sign-and-trade sending Lexie Brown to Sparks

Yueru hasn’t played a minute in the WNBA since being drafted by the Atlanta Dream with the 35th overall pick in the third round of the 2019 draft.

SHARE Sky acquire center Li Yueru in sign-and-trade sending Lexie Brown to Sparks
The Sky have acquired the rights to center Li Yueru from the Sparks.

The Sky have acquired the rights to center Li Yueru from the Sparks.

Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images

Sky coach/general manager James Wade made another roster move ahead of the preseason, completing a sign-and-trade that sent guard Lexie Brown to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the rights to center Li Yueru.

Yueru hasn’t played a minute in the WNBA since being drafted by the Atlanta Dream with the 35th overall pick in the third round of the 2019 draft. Her rights were acquired by the Sparks in February. Wednesday, the Sky signed Yueru to a rookie scale contract Wade told the Sun-Times. Now, the team is figuring out when she can come to Chicago.

“She’s the type of player that you want to be here,” Wade said. “You want to help her develop. She played with Candace [Parker] and Sylvia [Fowles]. She’s been a professional for a long time and has a bright future in our league.”

Yueru averaged 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds and shot nearly 80% from the field in the Tokyo Olympics. The 6-7 center from Changzhi, China, is currently playing for Inner Mongolia in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association and is averaging 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

The maximum number of rostered players in the WNBA is 12 but with their cap space, it’s likely the Sky will play with 11 this season.

Wade said his roster could still potentially see training camp additions. The max number of players a team can have in market for training camp, which begins April 17, is 15. Wade expects a handful of his players to arrive late due to their overseas careers leaving the possibility open for him to add to his training camp roster. Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, Emma Meesseman and Azurá Stevens will all be in camp on day one.

Wade extended a qualifying offer to Brown early in free agency. After that expired, she signed a training-camp contract according to sources before being traded.

Brown was invited to Sky training camp ahead of the 2021 season. After being waived, signing a hardship contract with the team and being waived again, Brown signed a rest-of-season contract last June. Brown averaged just 9.5 minutes last season but gave the team valuable depth in the backcourt.

She played in Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural season where she averaged 14 points, 4.6 assists and four rebounds and shot 46.9% from three through four weeks of play.

“I’m ready to go to training camp and compete,” Brown said. “I don’t think I can go in there and just chill, but that’s nothing new to me. I’m ready.”

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