The Las Vegas Aces just shook the league.
Months after winning their first title in franchise
history, and with the backdrop of multiple star talents — Jonquel
Jones, Natasha Howard, Allisha Gray — changing teams
via trade this offseason, the Aces have made the
first free-agency splash.
Candace Parker, one of the best basketball players to
ever grace the planet, announced
earlier today on Instagram that she plans to join the reigning
champions instead of returning to the Chicago Sky.
Per ESPN's Alexa Philippou, Parker's
deal with the Aces will be for one year. The signing won't become
official until February 1 (Wednesday) at the earliest, which is
when players are allowed to formalize new agreements.
In a perfect world, it would be easy to get excited
about the prospect of Parker and A’ja Wilson — she played a role in recruiting
Parker — playing together.
I don’t think there’s going to be a better defensive
frontcourt in The W, provided both stay healthy. Wilson won last
year’s Defensive Player of the Year award due to her work as a
scheme-versatile anchor. Parker, the (controversial) 2020 DPOY, is
still an elite defender in her own right. The amount of different
looks the Aces will be able to throw at teams will be
On the other end of the floor, Parker remains a star
due to her ability to operate as a hub. She can pry folks open with
handoffs and screens, or even initiate some pick-and-rolls if you
want to have a guard screen for her. She isn't able to toast bigger
defenders off the bounce with the same regularity as her prime
years, but Parker can still get busy in the mid-post or
This is a slam dunk on the court, but the on-court
stuff feels secondary right now. Frankly, it’s hard not to think of
Dearica Hamby in this situation.
I don’t think trading Hamby, in what can certainly be viewed now
as a salary dump, is a bad thing on its face. Heading into the
offseason, the Aces had the least amount of cap space in the W,
per Her Hoop Stats. In order to
add reinforcements of any kind to the roster, there would have to
be some sort of cap casualty — whether that was Hamby or Riquna
Williams. Even after moving Hamby, the Aces ranked 12th out of 12
teams in available cap space.
It makes sense that the Aces would choose to move
Hamby after winning a title without her being a major postseason
contributor due to injury. Kiah Stokes filled in admirably, and the
Aces ultimately won the title behind their small-ball lineups
Sadly, it's hard to view this solely through a
Not long after we learned about the trade, Hamby made
a post on Instagram (you can read it in full here)
thanking her teammates and Aces fans... and leveling some
uncomfortable-at-best allegations at the organization. Some of the
- Being accused of signing her contract extension
knowingly pregnant, without informing the team.
- Not holding up "her end of the bargain," i.e. not
getting pregnant during her two-year deal.
- Not taking precautions to prevent pregnancy.
- Not taking her offseason workouts seriously, in
light of her pregnancy and availablity ahead of next season.
The allegations were so serious that the WNBPA immediately
released a statement, saying they would seek an investigation into
The vast majority of players in the WNBA are black
women. An allegation of a black woman being, in Hamby's words,
"lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against" by
management shouldn't be taken lightly.
And if any of this is true, it's an
especially bad look for the Aces. They rightfully made waves last
offseason by hiring Becky Hammon and making her the highest-paid
coach in The W. More pressing is the fact that the two most
influential voices in the organization are black women: team
president Nikki Fargas and general manager Natalie Williams.
How do you go about making things right in that
scenario, much less recover from that kind of publicity?
Also, it's at least worth noting that Parker is a
mother in her own right. She mentioned the importance of her family
in her post, and how that factored into her decision to join the
Aces. This isn't to suggest that Parker deserves any ire for
signing with Vegas, because she doesn't; if there was foul play at
hand, any criticisms should start and stop with the guilty parties
within the Aces organization.
But how does Parker feel about the allegations? How
much was she made privy to before agreeing to sign? It's fair to
ask that much, though the opportunity to ask won't appear until
next week at the earliest.
(Full disclosure: I plan to take part in Parker's
introductory presser, either in person or on Zoom if that's an
option. If I'm not able to ask Parker those questions, I'm certain
another member of The W media will. At the very least, they
Without the Hamby/Aces investigation being complete,
there's only so much room to opine. What I will say is that this
just feels... weird, man. There will be time for a deeper dive of
the on-court fit, but I think we should make sure nobody was harmed