After leaving fans trying to decipher her cryptic tweets Taylor Swift style about where she’ll end up next season, Breanna Stewart is back in her home state of New York.
Stewart signed with the Liberty on February 1, after spending the last six seasons with the Seattle Storm. Stewie brings to New York an extensive resume, including two WNBA championships, two championship MVP awards and the 2022 scoring title. She is one of the greatest athletes the WNBA has ever seen, and at just 28 years old, she just made the biggest free agency move in history. WNBA.
Freedom is loading
Ahead of the start of free agency, Liberty was traded for forward Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun. Jones, a superstar in her own right, was a move no one expected, bolstering a roster built on the IQ and skill of Sabrina Ionescu. Then they added Stewart and signed guard Courtney Vandersloot from the Chicago Sky, who is one of the league’s best passers.
New York got the pieces to make a deep playoff run, something they haven’t done since 2002, and in the process they’ve built a super team that people can’t wait to see take the field with one of the best starting fives in recent history.
“I think this group has a ton of potential,” Stewart said ESPN after her signature. “I think there are a lot of amazing players. Selflessness is what will help us stand out from everyone else.”
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What’s next for the Storm?
The Storm, however, lost one of the best players to ever play for their franchise.
It takes a lot to get players to sign and re-sign, and it’s not like the Storm didn’t have the money to keep her. External factors influenced Stewie’s decision. Stewart’s recently retired teammate Sue Bird speculated that Stewie would sign with New York Zvonareva NBA show. Bird said, “She’s from Syracuse, which obviously isn’t New York City, but that makes a difference. It’s closer. Her wife is from Spain. It’s closer. He has a family now. Your priorities and what you need from the team start to change because money is not the only thing in the game.”
At the end of the day, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That’s what happened to Seattle in the Stewie sweepstakes. It just didn’t work.
One of the best things about Stewart and her style of play is that she can play wherever she is needed. Her versatility is an asset New York will capitalize on. She can shoot, she can make game-changing plays, and she can play incredible defense.
This is the first time in six years that Seattle will not have Bird or Stewie. It’s not something they didn’t see coming, as both players missed the 2019 season with injuries. The saving grace for Seattle is that they still have All-Star Jewell Loyd. This is why Storm is not in renewal statusse, but in an era full of uncertainty. They have voids in the starting five that may never be filled with offseason signings. Loyd will be called upon to anchor this team and take on a bigger role, something she never got to do playing with Stewie and Bird.
Additionally, if Mercedes Russell is healthy, she will be called upon to play a bigger role because of her experience. She hasn’t spent much time in Seattle, but without anyone to overshadow her, she could potentially put up numbers like she did in Tennessee.
It’s evident that the Storm won’t be the same team they’ve been for over half a decade, which is crazy to think about because they’ve been a giant for so long. They won’t finish top of the league like usual, but they won’t finish bottom of the league either. They are in basketball limbo and probably won’t leave it until people see them play. The playoffs aren’t out of the question, but if they don’t sign someone soon, the odds go down.
However, for New York, their breakout season was long overdue. People thought that Ionescu would be the deciding factor, but she couldn’t do it alone. The front office has built a team around their franchise player that will not only back her up, but take her level of play and demeanor to a higher standard. For Liberty, anything but going to the finals will be a disappointment.