New York Liberty sign star guard Courtney Vandersloot

New York Liberty sign star guard Courtney Vandersloot

2:54 PM ET

Alexa PhilippouESPN

CloseCovers women’s college basketball and WNBA Previously covered UConn and WNBA Connecticut Sun for Hartford Courant Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer

Star guard Courtney Vandersloot will sign with the New York Liberty, she announced Thursday, further strengthening the Liberty’s prospects of winning a first franchise championship in the near future.

The Liberty — the only original franchise still active to win a title — made the biggest splash in free agency by drafting Vandersloot, signing Breanna Stewart and trading for Jonquel Jones. Stewart and Jones won the league’s MVP awards in 2018 and 2021, respectively, and are considered the top three players in the world.

Vandersloot’s contract details are still being negotiated as the Liberty determine how to fit her and Stewart’s salaries under the league’s hard cap, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Stewart, a two-time Finals MVP, is expected to take significantly less so the Liberty can add Vandersloot, sources told ESPN.

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Vandersloot, a four-time All-Star and five-time WNBA selection, is widely regarded as one of the best guards in league history. After becoming the first WNBA player to average double-digit assists in a season in 2020, she led the Chicago Sky to their first franchise championship in 2021.

Vandersloot had spent her entire WNBA career with the Sky, who drafted her No. 3 overall in 2011 out of Gonzaga, before announcing via Instagram Monday that she would not be returning to Chicago in 2023.

ESPN previously reported that Vandersloot was also considering the Sky, Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm and that her free agency decision would affect Stewart’s. Vandersloot grew up in Kent, Washington, not far from Seattle, so joining the Storm would have marked a homecoming of sorts for the guard, whose jersey will also be retired at Gonzaga later this month.

A source close to the situation told ESPN that Vandersloot had a hard time saying no to Storm.

Vandersloot’s wife and former Chicago teammate, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, is out for the 2023 WNBA season, but she is not officially retiring.

New York, which has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, will aim for a championship in 2023 after bringing in Vandersloot, Stewart and Jones to round out the No. 1 of the 2020 draft, Sabrina Ionescu. .

While Ionescu can play point guard, she fared much better in the 2022 season — securing her first All-Star and all-WNBA nods — when she moved into an off-ball role with Crystal Dangerfield manning the point. Vandersloot then has to slide nicely past Ionescu at the back.

On paper, New York’s toughest challenger appears to be the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, who not only return two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and All-WNBA selection Kelsey Plum, but signed two-time MVP Candace. Parker and two-time champion Alysha Clark earlier this week.

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