Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot will continue her overseas career despite WNBA’s looming prioritization rule
The prioritization rule was added in the league’s new CBA in 2020 and will go into partial effect next season and full effect in 2024.
Courtney Vandersloot has no intention of ending her overseas career, despite the WNBA’s looming prioritization rule.
In fact, she’s set on winning another Euroleague title. She’ll begin those pursuits with reigning champion Sopron Basket, a Hungarian club, after the WNBA season in mid-October.
“I still have more to do,” Vandersloot said. “I’m Hungarian; I felt like [Sopron] was a good situation for me. I’m ready for a new challenge.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created unprecedented uncertainty for WNBA players who compete overseas in the offseason.
The arrest and detainment of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Vandersloot’s UMMC Ekaterinburg teammate, was a factor in her decision not to play in Russia.
Griner was detained in February after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis. Griner’s detention was extended to May 19, the Russian news agency TASS reported in March.
“Brittney is always top of mind,” Vandersloot said. “That could have been any of us. [Her detainment] does play a part. For me, I just want Brittney home and safe. It’s really sensitive and hard to be that close to home.”
Apart from Griner’s situation, playing overseas will have a new complication in 2023. The prioritization rule was added to the league’s collective-bargaining agreement in 2020. It will go into partial effect next season and full effect in 2024.
Beginning next year, any player with more than three years of WNBA experience who doesn’t arrive at training camp on time will be fined 1% of their salary for every day of camp missed. If players don’t arrive by the start of the regular season, they’ll be suspended for its entirety.
In 2024, that suspension will be enforced if players aren’t in market by the beginning of camp.
Vandersloot said she understands the thought behind the rule but believes she should have control over how she spends her offseason.
“I don’t think it’s the right move,” Vandersloot said. “We have a great opportunity to make very good money overseas, and I don’t think anybody should be able to take that from us. Especially without supplementing the income.”
The league’s maximum and minimum base salaries increased with the CBA, ranging from a rookie minimum of $60,471 to the $228,094 supermax deal. Also new was the league’s ability to sign players to marketing agreements. Those could lead to an extra $250,000 in earnings.
For the first time since her rookie year, Vandersloot was able to rest before the Sky’s camp began after returning to the U.S. from Russia in early March. The league’s top point guard said she has enjoyed playing year-round and will continue to as long as it’s benefiting her career.
“I’m going to continue to play, do what’s best for my career and make the decisions as I come to it,” Vandersloot said. “I don’t think that should be a factor. I should be able to do what I want in the offseason.”