Former Sky star Candace Parker introduced by Las Vegas Aces

Parker cites how the Aces are run, owner Mark Davis’ support for women’s sports as reasons for her signing.

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Candace Parker signed a one-year, $100,000 contract with the Las Vegas Aces.

Candace Parker signed a one-year, $100,000 contract with the Las Vegas Aces.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

MINNEAPOLIS — Two years ago, the Sky welcomed hometown legend Candace Parker into the fold with an introductory news conference.

On Tuesday, it was the reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces’ turn to do the same after Parker signed a one-year, $100,000 contract to help them go for back-to-back titles and her third individually.

‘‘First and foremost, I want to thank Chicago,’’ Parker said. ‘‘Being able to come back there and experience the things we experienced over the last two years was super-special and important for my family.’’

As recently as two weeks ago, the two-time WNBA MVP still was considering re-signing with the Sky. Ultimately, however, a list Parker made before free agency proved to be the catalyst for her departure.

On the list, she ranked competition, playing for a world-class organization, relationships and being close to her family. Every time she returned to the list, family came out as the top priority.

But the Aces really check all four.

Parker’s connections to the Aces are deep. Her wife, Anna Petrakova, played with Aces coach Becky Hammon on the Russian national team. Parker won her first WNBA championship with Aces guard Chelsea Gray, who along with her wife are the godparents to Parker’s and Petrakova’s son, Airr.

Aces president Nikki Fargas recruited Parker to play at the University of Tennessee. When Fargas was hired as UCLA’s women’s basketball coach, the two were neighbors in the Los Angeles area.

‘‘I’m a big relationship person,’’ Parker said. ‘‘Hearing it from [Fargas], how the organization was run, and Mark Davis and his support for women’s sports, which is super-important to me. From top to bottom, Natalie Williams, Becky Hammon, you go down the line. Obviously, having Chelsea there, as well. That’s what laid it out and made it an easier decision and made it something that my family and I would really consider.’’

Parker’s signing, however, was not without controversy in Las Vegas.

The Aces traded Dearica Hamby to the Los Angeles Sparks to free up salary-cap space to sign Parker and other free agents. After the trade, Hamby accused the Aces of bullying and manipulating her because of her pregnancy.

‘‘I was promised things to entice me to sign my contract extension that were not followed through on,’’ Hamby wrote in an Instagram post in which she detailed her experience.

The WNBA players’ union subsequently opened an investigation into Hamby’s claims. The league said Wednesday that it would also hold its own investigation. Tuesday was the first time since then that anyone from the Aces’ front-office staff was made available to the media. When Fargas was asked about the Hamby trade, the team’s PR staff interrupted, saying she had to exit the media availability for another business call.

‘‘Here at the Aces, we do make sure and will always continue to make sure our players and their families will be in the forefront of who we are as a franchise,’’ Fargas said in an introductory statement. ‘‘We’re going to always be supportive of our players in that regard, and we will always demonstrate that we will act accordingly when discussing the well-being of our athletes.’’

In two seasons with the Sky, Parker earned back-to-back All-Star nods and averaged 13.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 55 games, all of them starts.

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