Candace Parker says Sky need to reinvent themselves if they want to repeat as WNBA champions
Four days before their season opener Friday against the Sparks, the Sky’s approach this season will focus more heavily on their progression.
Candace Parker arrived at the reigning WNBA champion Sky’s training camp Monday but wasn’t greeted by the same team she shared the court with last season.
Kahleah Copper still is playing overseas in Spain, Stefanie Dolson and Diamond DeShields are gearing up for the WNBA season with new teams and Astou Ndour-Fall has opted to sit out the season.
There were a couple of new but familiar faces, too, such as assistant Ann Wauters, with whom Parker won a WNBA championship in 2016 with the Sparks, and Emma Meesseman, whom Parker said she hated playing against.
Beyond the personnel changes, however, Parker said the Sky need to reinvent themselves if they are going to repeat as champions in 2022.
‘‘Every year you have to reinvent yourself, reinvent what you do and prove what you do,‘’ Parker said. ‘‘This year we’re going to need a little bit more from me, [Courtney Vandersloot] and everybody, and we’re going to have to be able to adjust.’’
Parker arrived two weeks late to camp because she was recovering from COVID-19, which she said she contracted while working one of her offseason jobs.
During the offseason, Parker signed a multiyear extension with Turner Sports to continue serving as a studio analyst for its NBA and NCAA Tournament coverage. She also hosted a TED Talk, produced and was interviewed for the documentary ‘‘Title IX: 37 Words That Changed America’’ and debuted multiple new brand partnerships.
Back on the court, her attention — like that of the Sky’s entire roster — is on winning back-to-back titles.
Entering last season, the Sky were a heavy favorite to make it to the WNBA Finals before an early seven-game losing streak called that into question. But four days before their season opener Friday against the Sparks, the Sky’s approach this season will focus more heavily on their progression.
Coach/general manager James Wade said the Sky are going to do their best not to judge themselves by victories and losses. Winning another championship is about being healthy and whole at the right time.
The goal is to avoid injury completely, but the Sky said they’ll be ready to make adjustments when necessary.
‘‘We are seasoned, and we’re embracing that,’’ Parker said while laughing with Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. ‘‘The healthiest team at the end of the year wins if they can stay together and do what they need to do. We realize that, but we can’t take our foot off the gas, either.’’
After waiving Northwestern grad Lindsey Pulliam on Monday, Wade has 19 players on his roster. He will need to cut that to the league-mandated 12 by Thursday, but the Sky will play with 11 this season to fit under the salary cap.
Copper is expected to rejoin the Sky in mid-May and Chinese star Li Yueru in June, according to her agent. Julie Allemand also will arrive after the start of the season. Wade likely will sign players to replacement contracts until they arrive.