Star point guard Courtney Vandersloot will sign with the New York Liberty, she announced Thursday, further cementing the Liberty’s prospects of winning a franchise-first championship in the near future.
The Liberty – the only active original franchise to win another title – made the biggest splash in free agency by recruiting Vandersloot, signing Breanna Stewart and trading for Jonquel Jones. Stewart and Jones won league MVP awards in 2018 and 2021, respectively, and are considered the top three players in the world.
#BREAK Courtney Vandersloot signs with the New York Liberty🗽✍🏼
— Courtney Vandersloot (@Sloot22) February 2, 2023
The details of Vandersloot’s contract are still being negotiated as the Liberty determines how her and Stewart’s salaries will fit under the hard cap, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Stewart, a two-time Finals MVP who currently plays alongside Vandersloot on Turkish team Fenerbahçe, opted for New York on Wednesday and is expected to take significantly less so the Liberty can add Vandersloot, sources told ESPN.
A four-time All-Star and five-time all-WNBA selection, Vandersloot is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards in league history. After becoming the first WNBA player to average double-digit assists in a season in 2020, she led the Chicago Sky to a franchise-first championship in 2021.
Vandersloot had spent her entire WNBA career with the Sky, who ranked her No. 3 from Gonzaga in 2011, before announcing via Instagram on Monday that she would not be returning to Chicago in 2023.
ESPN previously reported that Vandersloot was also considering the Sky, Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm and that her free choice would factor into Stewart’s. Vandersloot grew up in Kent, Washington, not far from Seattle, so joining the Storm would have been something of a homecoming for the point guard, whose jersey will be retired later this month in Gonzaga.
A source close to the situation told ESPN that Vandersloot had a hard time saying no to the Storm.
Vandersloot’s wife and former Chicago teammate, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, will sit out the 2023 WNBA season but will not officially retire.
New York, which was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons, will set its sights on a championship in 2023 after bringing in Vandersloot, Stewart and Jones to take on Sabrina Ionescu, No. 1 of the draft. of 2020, to surround.
While Ionescu can play point guard, she fared much better in the 2022 season — earning her first All-Star and All-WNBA nominations — when she was moved to an off-ball role with Crystal Dangerfield leading the way. Vandersloot should then slide nicely next to Ionescu in the backcourt.
On paper, New York’s toughest challenger appears to be defending champion Las Vegas, with the Aces having signed not only returning two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and All-WNBA selection Kelsey Plum, but also two-time MVP Candace Parker and two-time champion Alysha Clark earlier this week.