From DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Diana Taurasi stays in Phoenix while Alysha Clark travels across the country to join the Washington Mystics.
Both signed multi-year contracts on Monday, the first day WNBA-free agents could officially enter into ink deals. Candace Parker also signed with Sky and returned to Chicago after her entire career in Los Angeles after being drafted for the first time in 2008.
Unlike Parker, there was no real expectation that 38-year-old Taurasi would leave the team that designed her number 1 in 2004.
“Like I said, as long as Diana wants to play in the WNBA, we want her in a Mercury uniform. She is the heart of our franchise, the first face on our Mount Rushmore, the top winner and competitor in the women’s game, “said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman.” Our organization’s evolution changed the day we designed it 17 years ago. and we are happy that she will be here in the future. “
Clark helped the Seattle Storm win a title last season, their second with the franchise.
“Alysha Clark is the ultimate competitor and winner. She is capable of influencing the game at both ends of the pitch and providing incredible leadership in the dressing room, ”said Mystics coach and GM Mike Thibault. “There aren’t many players in the league who are as respected as they are. She contributes to every phase of the game – an all-defensive team player, a leader in 3-point shooting, a great passer-by, and a threat to stand up. It fits our style of play perfectly. Your new teammates and employees look forward to coming to the pitch with her soon! “
She has had one of her best seasons, averaging 10 points, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals, and shoots 55.8% off the field. Clark led the WNBA for the second year in a row in 3-point field target percentage (52.2).
“The love I’ve received since my decision was really amazing. Change is never easy, but teammates and an organization that is excited for you to join their family do better, “said Clark. “I’m really looking forward to exploring DC and creating new memories with my teammates and fans!”
Further steps on Monday were the signing of Cheyenne Parker at Atlanta and Jantel Lavender at the Indiana Fever. Minnesota signed Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa, while Las Vegas re-signed Dearica Hamby, the incumbent Sixth Woman of the Year.
Cheyenne Parker has had a career season averaging 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game for Chicago. She started 13 of the 20 games she played in.
“We targeted Cheyenne for two reasons: first because of their ability to land on the edge and second because of their ability to knock down the 3,” said Nicki Collen, Atlanta coach. “Cheyenne has shown growth in their game year after year and we believe it will only get better. Her toughness, her desire to compete, and her joyful demeanor will only strengthen our roster. I am thrilled that she chose Atlanta. “
Lavender was acquired by Fever on August 28th via Chicago Trade, along with second and third round picks in this year’s draft.
“We are very excited to officially welcome Jantel to our team,” said Tamika Catchings, Indiana vice president of basketball operations and general manager. “Her experience in championship-caliber teams and the energy she shows on and off the ground will be of vital importance to our team.”
The 6-foot-4 striker had surgery on her left foot’s fifth metatarsal before last season and missed the year. She signed a multi-year contract on Monday.
Allisha Gray signed again with the Dallas Wings. Gray was League Rookie of the Year in 2017. Last season she averaged a career high of 13.1 points. Seattle is also bringing back the Epiphanny Prince guard.
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