The New York Liberty is building a super team in Brooklyn.
Freedom Former MVP Jonquil Jones In a three-difference trade earlier this week with enough cutoff cover space To make the most of another superstar — their long-rumored target is Breanna Stewart, the 28-year-old MVP who hails from Syracuse — when free agency kicks off Saturday.
All-Star protege Sabrina Ionescu feels as healthy and energized as she has since joining Liberty as the first pick in the 2020 draft.
The Big 3 of Jones, Stewart and Ionescu will turn the Liberty into an automatic title contender in hopes of hanging the franchise’s first championship banner.
“It’s the first time I’ve not been in rehab off-season, and I would say it’s the first time I’ve been able to sort of sort of and know exactly what it’s going to look like and not have a hitch in the surgery procedure, you know, whatever that sounds like,” he tells Ionescu recently The Post while at American Express x NBA 2K23 Gaming Lab It happened in New York City, before the Jones trade. “And so it was exciting. … And now we’re back in training and so excited, just hit the ground running.”
Ionescu suffered a grade 3 left ankle sprain in her third career WNBA game and missed the rest of the COVID-19 “wubble” season. Product Oregon underwent Ankle surgery in November 2020, and the effects of the injury continued into her 2021 campaign and into the following season. Ionescu’s injury and recovery tested her patience. She later told Rich Clement of Boardroom that she I rushed back To court after ankle surgery.
“The first two years of professional playing weren’t really what I thought they would be playing especially, you know, going into a bubble, recruiting in the middle of a pandemic,” Ionescu said. “But last season it felt like the first season where everything was back to normal, and we have a really good fan base in New York, you know, the ability to play at Barclays.”
A “regular” season is one way of describing it. Others would say Ionescu had a phenomenal year in 2022, when she averaged 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists, earning her first All-Star nod and selection to the All-WNBA Second Team.
Ionescu also became the first player in the WNBA to amass over 500 points, over 200 rebounds and over 200 assists in a single season and The first to score 30 triple-double pointswhen she posted 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Aces in July.
In October, Ionescu won a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Australia. Back home, Ionescu took some much deserved time off, enjoying some of her favorite activities off the field.
“Obviously I took some time off after the World Cup and let my body rest and recover,” Ionescu said. “I think I’ve traveled a little bit more and honestly devoted a little bit more time towards things outside of basketball — spending time with family, being able to come home and continue practicing and doing other things. … But I think not being under the pressure of knowing I have to rehab or I have to train or I won’t get healthy is, I guess, just something I don’t have to worry about.
“I was doing a lot of yoga, hot yoga, and pilates, which was really fun. … I like swimming and cycling. I walked for the first time too because I couldn’t do it in my spare time.” [while rehabbing]. Just being able to get back to the activity of everyday life and not deal with stress was something I was able to do in the off-season.”
As she prepares for her fourth WNBA season, Ionescu is also focusing on her various business ventures.
In November, it made the Forbes 30 Under 30 List 2022 in the Sports category, which acknowledged a long list of endorsements and investments in Buzzer Media and Nex. In addition, she works closely with Kevin Durant as Boardroom’s ambassador and strategic partner Durant and Kleiman Thirty-Five Projects.
Ionescu also had a part-time job at her alma mater with the Oregon State women’s basketball team As Director of Sports Culture. In her role, Ionesco will help develop student-athletes and nurture the five pillars of Oregon State women’s basketball for head coach Kelly Graves: Passion, Integrity, Unity, Gratitude, and Service.
“It’s really a mentorship type opportunity,” Ionescu said. “I’m really close to the coaching staff. There’s the university, obviously the team. And so I wanted to keep looking for ways to give back.
“I was able to go back and talk to the team, talk to the players and kind of, you know, be there as a resource for them for whatever they need. It wasn’t much at the moment. … But I think just getting the chance to just be a plate A voice or being what the players need is really what I was looking for from this opportunity.”
The Post spoke with Ionescu on the WNBA champ today Brittney Griner has been released From Russia in a prisoner exchange for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout. Greiner, a member of the Phoenix Mercury, was held for nearly 10 months in Russia after she was arrested for drug trafficking at a Moscow-area airport in February.
The WNBA and its players, including Ionescu, campaigned for her release with public appeals and calls to action.
“I think it says a lot about the fact that every team in the league, every individual player, and organization stood behind them and really did everything we could to use our voice and our platform to spread awareness, educate and bring it back home,” Ionescu said.
“It’s been there for a long time. And I don’t know that a lot of players and leagues would continue to keep it at the forefront of what they were trying to achieve. So I think it speaks volumes about what we stand for and just the family that we have in the WNBA.”