Star point guard Courtney Vandersloot will sign with the New York Liberty, she announced Thursday, further bolstering the Liberty’s chances of winning a first franchise championship in the near future.
The Liberty — the only remaining original franchise yet to win a title — caused a stir 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.
#BREAKING Courtney Vandersloot signs with the New York Liberty🗽✍🏼
— Courtney Vandersloot (@Sloot22) February 2, 2023
Details of Vandersloot’s contract are still being negotiated as the Liberty determine how to fit her and Stewart’s salaries under the hard cap, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Stewart, a two-time Finals MVP who currently plays alongside Vandersloot in Turkish side Fenerbahçe, picked New York on Wednesday and is expected to take significantly less for the Liberty to add Vandersloot, sources told ESPN.
Vandersloot, a four-time All-Star and five-time All-WNBA, is widely considered one of the best point guards in league history. After becoming the first WNBA player to average double digit assists in a season in 2020, she guided the Chicago Sky to a first franchise championship in 2021.
Vandersloot had spent her entire WNBA career with the Sky, who drafted her at No. 3 in 2011 from Gonzaga, before announcing via Instagram on Monday that she would not return to Chicago in 2023.
ESPN previously reported that Vandersloot is also considering the Sky, Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm and that his free agency decision will factor into Stewart’s decision. Vandersloot grew up in Kent, Washington, not too far from Seattle, so joining the Storm would have marked a homecoming of sorts for the point guard, whose jersey will be retired to Gonzaga later this month.
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, sniper Allie Quigley, is absent from the 2023 WNBA season but is not officially retiring.
New York, which has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons, will be aiming for a championship in 2023 after bringing in Vandersloot, Stewart and Jones to surround 2020 No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu.
Although Ionescu could play point guard, she fared much better in the 2022 season – earning her first All-Star and All-WNBA nods – when she was moved to an off-ball role with Crystal. Dangerfield in the lead. Vandersloot should then easily slip past Ionescu in the backcourt.
On paper, New York’s toughest challenger appears to be defending champion Las Vegas, with the Aces going not just to two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and All-Star selection WNBA Kelsey Plum, but also signing two-time MVP Candace Parker and two-time champion Alysha Clark earlier this week.