The Minnesota Lynx will meet former Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot after opening free agency on Saturday, according to The Guardian. Reporting by Howard Magdal from next one.
Vandersloot, four times WNBA An All-Star, she met Lynx last season as well, before eventually returning to Sky on a one-year deal with her wife, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, a Chicago-area native and DePaul alumnus. Quigley’s decision to return to Sky for another season in free agency last year likely played a role in Vandersloot’s decision.
After Sky’s season-ending loss to the Connecticut Sun in Game 5 of the WNBA Semifinals last season, Quigley addressed uncertainty about the WNBA’s future, as it was rumored all season that she was considering retiring after the season.
“I never imagined it would end up like this or have the career that I have. Especially being able to do it in Chicago with my family, and meet my wife, it’s just incredible,” Quigley said. ESPN. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
While Quigley hasn’t announced her retirement, her post-game comments certainly fueled speculation that the 2022 season will be her last. Given that Vandersloot, Quigley, and star forwards Candace Parker and Emma Messeman — who were Explicitly against the university’s prioritization rule That come into play next season – they’re all free agents, and it looks like this could be a clean break point.
Magdal added the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty among parties interested in Vandersloot. The talented goalkeeper is a native of Kent, WA. , a suburb of Seattle, and starred in Gonzaga in college. Vandersloot’s matchup with Liberty will be interesting considering she will join All-Star protégé Sabrina Ionescu in the New York backcourt, but if Ionescu gets off the ball, he could create a dynamic force to be reckoned with.
If the Lynx were to land Vandersloot, it would be a transformative boost to the back court. Minnesota coach and chief of basketball operations Sherrill Reeve has been looking for a long-term replacement she feels comfortable with since Hall of Fame inductee and Lynx legend Lindsay Whalen retired in 2018, but she hasn’t found a match for her yet. Vandersloot — who turns 34 on Feb. 8 — may not reach Whalen’s eight-year stint, but he does check the boxes Reeve would like to be on base.
Vandersloot averaged 11.8 points in the 48.1/36.7/76.5 shooting splits, 6.5 assists on 2.7 turnovers, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and +12.7 in 26.5 minutes per game in 32 contests, all starts.
She is the top guard in the ‘general floor’ style of free agency, and has a tremendous ability to run an organized offense with star players and make good decisions with the ball almost every time she is on the floor. If Sloot picks Minnesota, we’ll see a fully improved version of two-time All-Star forward Napheesa Collier that undoubtedly raises the bar for an offense that struggled to the stretch without Collier last season.
While Vandersloot, who ranks third on the WNBA assists list (2,385), has been the heartbeat of one of the league’s most efficient offenses in recent years, she also tends to feature in clutch moments.
Lynx fans will well remember her buzzer 3 win over Minnesota last June.
It came in a key way in the 2021 WNBA Finals as well, which Chicago won after defeating the Lynx in the first round.
Megdal also reports that Lynx is targeting versatile striker Azura Stevens, one of Vandersloot’s Sky teammates. Stephens played for Collier at the Okun And she possesses many of the skills Reeve is looking for in a forward/center that can help replace the impact that the legendary Sylvia Fowles made during her dominant career in Minneapolis.
The five-year veteran averaged 10.6 points on 47.2/36.2/74.4 shooting, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.5 steals across 21.9 minutes per game in 35 contests, eight of which were starts.
At 6-foot-6, Stevens is a solid shooter with range beyond the arc (36.2%) and a good shot combination as well. She is a strong passer-by of elbows and circumference, and is also capable of rebellion. Her height and wide wingspan allow her to disrupt the flow of opposing attacks as an inside shot blocker and play in the gaps to deflect passes.
When Fowles went down last season with a knee injury, Minnesota ran a flip-flop offense with the seniors playing on the elbows to take advantage of the high-level passing talents of Jess Shepard and Natalie Ashonua. Lynx might look to do it again if it provides more distances for Collier to attack from across the land. Stephens’ shooting and passing abilities will fit this system well.
next one reported that Stevens has “at least five suitors,” with the Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Skye and Indiana Fever joining the Lynx within that group, with the Washington Mystics potentially becoming a player as well.
After playing behind Parker and Messman last season, Stevens could very well — understandably — be looking for a starting opportunity. Minnesota may offer the clearest path to a starting spot, but they could pair up with big-time all-stars in Los Angeles or Connecticut (if they keep Benka Ogomik and Breonna Jones, respectively), superstar young players Nalissa Smith and virtual No. 1 overall high Boston in Indiana.
No matter what happens over the next few days, it should be an exciting period as Lynx enters a new era — and it could start to tick around 11pm axial time tonight.
You can catch up on all the latest Lynx-related news on the 2023 WNBA Free Agency Tracker here Before the negotiation window opens at 11pm CST tonight.
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