Home Sports What happens if Courtney Vandersloot leaves? Examining a few free-agency scenarios for the Chicago Sky.

What happens if Courtney Vandersloot leaves? Examining a few free-agency scenarios for the Chicago Sky.

by staff

Rumors and reports of the franchise’s cornerstones taking meetings with other teams have left many wondering what the future of the Chicago Sky will look like in 2023 — and beyond.

Free agents can’t sign until Feb. 1, but the Sky’s all-time assists leader Courtney Vandersloot reportedly has interest in joining forces with the Minnesota Lynx or New York Liberty. Candace Parker has taken meetings with the Las Vegas Aces and Los Angeles Sparks, while Azurá Stevens has generated leaguewide interest. Allie Quigley also hasn’t made a decision about her future and is considering retiring.

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Let’s examine a few scenarios for the Sky.

If Vandersloot leaves, projecting the Sky’s backcourt is murky. Internally, they could roll with Julie Allemand or third-year guard Dana Evans. Allemand’s overseas pedigree makes her a solid candidate for taking over Vandersloot’s role, but she — along with Sky/ Team Belgium teammate Emma Meesseman — could opt out of the WNBA season to rest for FIBA’s EuroBasket tournament that starts on June 15.

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Even with Evans, the Sky still needs more depth behind either her or Allemand. The front office could bring in a veteran guard on a cheaper deal as the team develops Evans as a distributor.

Just like the backcourt, the number of high-end bigs on the open market is shrinking. Superstar Breanna Stewart is only taking meetings with four teams, while the Connecticut Sun just applied the core designation tag on All-Star Brionna Jones. Without a commitment from Stevens and/or Parker, the Sky is looking at the second tier of bigs in free agency.

If Parker decides to move back west and Meesseman prioritizes rest, offering a maximum deal to Stevens should take priority for the Sky. Trading for — and extending — Stevens has been one the best moves of James Wade’s tenure as a general manager, as she checks off all the boxes as a multifaceted modern big. Stevens led the league in blocks at the rim in 2022 and improved as a spot-up shooter since coming to Chicago.

The Sky own the No. 5 pick in the April draft after trading Diamond DeShields to the Phoenix Mercury for a 2023 first-round selection as a part of a three-team trade last offseason. There is little draft consensus past the No. 3 pick given how top heavy the class is. If the Sky believe they can’t re-sign Vandersloot in free agency, it would make sense to target one of the top three picks via trade.

Could the Sky and the Minnesota Lynx be trade partners? The Lynx own the No. 2 pick and are primed to re-enter the contender conversation. With Vandersloot going to meet with the Lynx for the second time in as many years, it would be a logical fit for a Minnesota team lacking consistent production from its point guards over the last two years.

The Sky has $931,801 in cap room per HerHoopsStats’ database.

They could absorb Natalie Achonwa’s $155,000 figure and complete a sign-and-trade that sends Vandersloot and the No. 5 pick up for the No. 2. The move would help the Sky target a player like Maryland’s Diamond Miller in the draft. Even in a draft class that has a transcendent prospect like South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Miller has potential to have the best WNBA career. The 6-foot-2 player can guard multiple positions and has scored .957 points per possession in the halfcourt which ranks in the 91st percentile this season, per Synergy Sports tracking.

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The front office has a major decision looming over this next week: blow up the roster and build toward the future, retool with the hope of contending in the next couple years, or go after another championship as the rest of the league gets stronger.

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