IN A NEW YORK WIN-IT
Vandersloot, Stewart take less money to chase title with Liberty
The New York Liberty pulled out all the stops Thursday morning welcoming their new stars, Courtney Vandersloot and Breanna Stewart, to Brooklyn.
On their drive to the Barclays Center in a private car, Stewart and Vandersloot looked at each other and asked, “Is this really happening?”
As they pulled up to the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues and were greeted by a swarm of photographers and a giant welcome message displayed across the arena’s outdoor video board, their new reality began to set in.
They each had a different reason for saying goodbye to the familiar in favor of an exciting new opportunity. Vandersloot’s explanation said more about the Sky and what they were unable to give her.
“The plan, the vision right away, it was so clear, it wasn’t dependent on this or if this happens or this happens,” Vandersloot said. “It’s like, this is what we see, this is what we’re going to go do. We want to bring a championship, the best players here. We’re going to take care of you. It was everything that we were looking for. They’re pushing the envelope in all areas.”
According to HerHoopStats, Vandersloot signed a two-year deal worth $189,000 this year and $194,670 in 2024, a discount from the super-max deal she could have received from the Sky. Stewart signed a one-year deal worth $175,000, also well below her market value.
Vandersloot, third on the WNBA’s career assists list, and Stewart, the 2018 MVP, were willing to sign at discounted rates because of their desire to chase another title.
The league’s hard salary cap attempts to keep an even playing field for all teams, so stars such as Vandersloot and Stewart are willing to take pay cuts if it leads to a more talented team.
“What we’re setting a precedent for is to be willing to play with other great players, to want to win and do whatever we can to make that happen,” Stewart said. “It’s not my decision that the WNBA has such a hard salary cap. That’s a discussion for the next CBA.”
The discussion might not wait until the league’s collectivebargaining agreement is up in 2027.
Howard Megdal reported that the league is investigating the Las Vegas Aces for circumventing the salary cap. The WNBA also is investigating the Aces after Dearica Hamby accused the organization of “unprofessional and unethical” treatment because of her pregnancy. In a social-media post shared by Hamby after her trade to the Los Angeles Sparks, the two-time All-Star said the treatment she received from the Aces was “traumatizing.”
According to Megdal, the Aces are being investigated for offering under-the-table deals to current players and free agents.
The league’s investigation into the Aces undoubtedly will spark discussions about the league’s salary cap.
Depending on the findings, either the league will make an example of the Aces, forcing teams to continue to sign top stars with benefits that aren’t limited by the CBA. Or the league will fail to dissuade other organizations from taking up the same salary-cap workarounds.
One way or another, a new era is brewing in the WNBA.