Sky facing off-season overhaul after losing Match 5 to Sun

Sky star Candace Parker recently had a discussion with her brother about emotions. The two were trying to determine which was greater, the emotions associated with winning or those associated with losing.

For Parker, it’s not even close. The emotions associated with the loss are etched in her memory.

She remembers the time and place, missed shots and defensive breakdowns of every major loss in her career. So when it comes to coming to terms with Sky’s Thursday loss to The Sun in Game Five of the WNBA Semifinals – in a season that has had historic expectations – Parker has to add to the bank.

“I still haven’t come to terms with Sophia Young’s backhanded shot in my freshman year [in 2008 with the Sparks]Parker said.

The shot Parker was referring to was Young’s buzzing punch in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals that enabled the Stars to dictate Game Three. They went on to win the series, ending Parker’s historic season for Player of the Year and MVP.

Parker didn’t mention which semi-final loss was worse, but the loss to the Sun was historic for all the wrong reasons.

Everything happened quickly. Sky was about to get a chance to defend the WNBA title they won last season before watching it collapse in four minutes. They allowed The Sun to go on with their longest scoring streak – 18-0 – to close a playoff in WNBA history.

Striker Kahleah Copper said, “I’m walking around, like, time to pack up?” “I’m not ready for this. ”

Sky 2022 was, according to goalkeeper Courtney Vanderslott, one of the best teams the organization has brought together. By WNBA standards, it was the team the best, with honors for Coach/General Manager James Wade as CEO of the Year.

Now everything is in flow.

Copper is the most experienced player and the only member of Wade’s starting lineup under contract heading into the 2023 season. Vandersloot and goalkeeper Allie Quigley are back for the 2022 season with one-year deals. Forward Emma Meesseman has signed a one-year deal for 2022 as a free agent, Parker’s two-year contract signed in 2021.

Forward Azurá Stevens will also become an unrestricted free agent.

Quigley and Parker haven’t shied away from talking about retirement, and Vandersloot is facing her future as well, but in a different way. Since being drafted by Sky in 2011, loyalty has been the driving force behind her decision to re-sign with them year after year.

For many years, she wasn’t even in talks with a free agency but was simply asking where to sign. Last year, Vandersloot had meetings with Storm and Lynx as well. This off season, you will once again be an unrestricted free agent.

“There was a huge part of me that thought I wouldn’t be back last year, and here I am,” Vanderslot said during exit interviews. “Heaven has been faithful to me, and she has returned the favor. ”

Vandersloot said Sky will be in a race to be their landing point for the 2023 season.

The only place Parker was open to signing in 2021 – other than Sparks, the organization that drafted it – was with Sky. As an unrestricted free agent again, she is also considering retirement.

Operating on the assumption that Parker will have the same mindset she had in 2021, Sky & Sparks will be the character for the contestants if she decides to pursue her career. But the wounds from Thursday’s historic loss are still too soft for her to think about her next move.

Parker said she would not make any decisions about her future based on short-term feelings.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to play or what’s going to happen,” Parker said.

Playing for her hometown franchise — in front of her friends and family and with the people who make up the sky — tempts Parker, but her decision on whether Thursday is the last game of her Hall of Fame career will come in time.

Meanwhile, Quigley has already said that she will not play abroad this season after spending 15 seasons abroad. It will be decided if she returns to the WNBA.

Wade’s approach to his players considering retirement is not to influence their decision one way or the other.

“I try to be there for them, and be open minded,” Wade said. “And let them know that Chicago Sky is the last costume we want them to play in.”

The free agency period this winter will be even tougher than it was last season because Wade doesn’t have the selling point of Sky trying to become the first WNBA franchise to win back-to-back titles in 20 years. This was undoubtedly the motivating factor behind Quigley and Vandersloot’s re-signing and Parker’s postponement of retirement for another year.

Wade will face a wide open guard market – particularly with Vandersloot’s hometown team, Storm, looking to replace retired Sue Bird – two potential Parker and Quigley retirements and the sale of the Championship product after a semi-final loss.

How will unrestricted free agents and others roll out across the league?

“I think it’s by trying to get two out of three,” Wade said.

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