4 Sky questions on my mind this offseason

Whether by re-signing Parker or via free agency, Sky’s defense must improve to contend

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Cheyenne Parker

Cheyenne Parker #32 and Ruthy Hebard #24 of the Chicago Sky look on after a foul in the second half against the Connecticut Sun during Game One of their First Round playoff at Feld Entertainment Center on September 15, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida.

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Sky are not quite a championship-caliber team — that was clear last season.

Few team’s could match the Sky’s offense in 2020 between Courtney Vandersloot’s playmaking, Allie Quigley’s reliable scoring and Kahleah Copper’s breakout season.

However, the team’s shoddy defense and several injuries led to its demise.

The Sky had a strong 10-4 start that positioned them as title contenders at the midway point of the season. But they sputtered into the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round.

With the majority of the team on the final year of their contracts, this could be a make-or-break offseason for the Sky.

Here are four Sky questions for this offseason:

Will the Sky re-sign Parker?

All signs point to yes as of now — if they can afford her.

Cheyenne Parker is coming off a career-best season, posting career highs in points (13.4), rebounds (6.4) and steals (1.3).

Parker previously told the Sun-Times she expects to return to the Sky. She had a base salary of $110,000 last year and is due for a pay raise.

General manager and coach James Wade managed to re-sign Vandersloot to a two-year deal at less than a max salary, though with her play she could have demanded a max deal. He has some flexibility to give Parker the raise she deserves.

However, re-signing Parker alone won’t be enough to take the Sky to the next level.

How aggressive will Wade be in free agency?

Wade traded 2019 first-round pick Katie Lou Samuelson to the Dallas Wings for Azura Stevens last February in a move that totally blindsided Samuelson and signaled the Sky made a mistake in drafting her.

Stevens made the Sky better last year, though she missed the second half of the season with a knee injury that required surgery.

With last offseason’s moves, Wade proved he’s not afraid to shake things up. He’ll need to be even more aggressive this year if the Sky want to win their first championship.

The Sky need to get another strong defensive player this offseason. They have only about $150,000 in cap room, according to The Next’s salary database. Re-signing Parker would likely eat up most of the cap space and force the Sky to the trade market to improve defensively.

Does DeShields have something to prove after her early bubble departure?

There’s a lot riding on Diamond DeShields’ shoulders, and that pressure is only growing.

DeShields was supposed to take her game up a notch in 2020, but didn’t due to a series of injuries. Then in August, she left the bubble for unexplained “personal reasons.”

Nearly five months have gone by and DeShields still has not spoken to the media regarding last season. She has, however, posted promising training videos on Instagram.

The upcoming season will be critical for DeShields going into her final year of her contract and her development will be an integral part in the Sky’s progression.

How will COVID-19 impact the upcoming season?

It’s hard to predict how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the WNBA in 2021.

The WNBA season typically starts in mid-May, so there’s plenty of time for the league to plan. Right now, league officials are keeping a close eye on the NBA.

The Olympics also will complicate the WNBA’s schedule planning.

If the Summer Games happen, the WNBA will need to carve out a month in its regular-season schedule to allow players to join their respective national teams, which isn’t unusual for seasons that happen during Olympic years.

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