NY Liberty build WNBA’s newest super team


Lorie Shaull | Flickr

Kayla Aaron

The New York Liberty acquired Jonquel Jones, Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot, paving the way for a new super team in the five boroughs.

In a three-way trade, the Liberty received Jones, a four-time All-Star who won the 2021 WNBA MVP award and holds the all-time record for blocks for her former team, the Connecticut Sun.

WNBA star Stewart announced on Feb. 1 that she would be leaving the Seattle Storm to sign with the Liberty for the upcoming season.

Stewart, a New York native, was drafted by the Storm in 2016 and spent her first five seasons there. Stewart has two Olympic gold medals, two WNBA championships, two WNBA Finals MVP awards, a regular season MVP award and a scoring title.

In response to Stewart’s signing video, NBA star Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets tweeted “Aye, don’t call my phone lookin for tickets this summer, they gone. Let’s get it @nyliberty.”

Charter travel is one of the main reasons Stewart chose New York. Private travel has been a big issue for Stewart and other WNBA players. According to the WNBA’s 2020 collective bargaining agreement, all air travel provided by the team will be premium economy.

Prior to announcing her decision to sign with the Liberty, Stewart tweeted that she would contribute financially to a deal that promoted player health and safety.

Last year, the Liberty was fined $500,000 for chartering flights in 2021, which violates the league’s CBA. In an interview with ESPN, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert estimates that it will cost $25 million to charter flights for the regular season and playoffs.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA MVP, gave his support and perspective to the issue of charter flights in response to Stewart’s enthusiastic campaign for a deal. “I’m all for @WNBA players getting equal rights. Congrats Breanna for raising this issue,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a tweet.

Two-time All-Star Vandersloot announced on Jan. 31 that she would not be re-signing her contract with the Chicago Sky, where she has played the last 11 years. She thanked the city and her teammates, admitting she was looking forward to something new elsewhere.

Two days later, Vandersloot confirmed she signed with the Liberty.

Vandersloot’s wife and fellow Chicago Sky basketball star Allie Quigley announced that she would be sitting out this season.

Many people have been analyzing the $1.4 million salary cap, guessing as to who may take a pay cut to make room for Stewart and Vandersloot.

Jones, Stewart and Vandersloot join 2020 first-round pick Sabrina Ionescu. Ionescu has been the face of the franchise since draft day. It will be interesting to see how the group plays together considering they have joined forces in the past for Team USA and in other leagues overseas.

This star-studded Liberty team is going to be tough to beat. The Las Vegas Aces, who are the reigning champions, have made moves during free agency as well.

The Aces signed Candace Parker from the Chicago Sky and have retained their core of All-Stars that includes 2022 MVP and Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, 2022 All-Star MVP Kelsey Plum and 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray.

The Liberty and Aces are being heralded by most as super teams and favorites for this year’s championship. This could be the beginning of a rivalry in the WNBA.