The 2021 WNBA offseason isn't completely over, but most of the important business has wrapped up. Candace Parker stunned everyone by leaving the Los Angeles Sparks for the Chicago Sky, Diana Taurasi re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury and Sue Bird is expected to do the same with the Seattle Storm.
Elsewhere, Chelsea Gray left the Sparks for the Las Vegas Aces, while the Minnesota Lynx pulled off a big double-move to bring in Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers. Out in Washington D.C., the Mystics strengthened their team by adding Alysha Clark and re-signed Tina Charles.
And that's before even mentioning the wild day of trades last week, which saw seven players and five draft picks swap hands. When the dust settled, the New York Liberty had acquired Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb, and the Dallas Wings come away with the No. 1 overall pick.
So now that we're a little over two weeks out from teams officially being able to sign players, it's worth taking a closer look at how everything played out. Let's answer some big questions:
Which team has had the best offseason so far?
Minnesota Lynx: The Lynx are coming off a season in which they weren't expected to make the playoffs, but great play from young players Crystal Dangerfield and Naphessa Collier pushed them to the semifinals last year. Then Minnesota added three-time All-Star guard Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers, who were arguably the two best wing players on the market. All of a sudden, the Lynx went from a team with little expectations to a near lock for the playoffs and a legitimate contender next season. -- Jasmyn Wimbish
Chicago Sky: The Lynx had a strong winter, and they're going to be really good, but the Sky get the slight edge here by virtue of signing Candace Parker, who was the best free agent available. Chicago has been a solid team for a while now, but it has always hovered in the tier just below the true contenders. That changes with Parker's arrival. She gives the Sky the extra bit of star power they've always needed to take the next step. -- Jack Maloney
Which team has had the worst offseason so far?
Indiana Fever: The Fever seem to be content with being a lottery team in the league, because while the Liberty, Dream and Wings all made strides in trying to compete for the postseason, Indiana decided to sign a pair of veteran players who likely won't make much of an impact on this team's success. Danielle Robinson has never been a significantly impactful player on offense, while Jantel Lavender hasn't played since 2019 due to a broken bone in her left foot that required her to sit out the entire 2020 season. -- JW
Los Angeles Sparks: There were other teams that got worse, but the Sparks were the only contender from last season who dropped out of that category so they take the dishonor here. It wasn't so much what they did do, but what they didn't. They were unable to re-sign Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray, which meant saying goodbye to not only the face of their franchise and one of the best point guards in the league, but the identity of this team. -- JM
What was your favorite under-the-radar signing?
Erica Wheeler, Sparks: Wheeler sat out last season after testing positive for COVID-19, but she still managed to play overseas, where she put up 15.1 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 37 percent from deep. She's going to be tasked with trying to fill the very big shoes of All-WNBA point guard Chelsea Gray, who signed with the Aces as a free agent. Although Wheeler may not be on the same level as Gray, the spark -- no pun intended -- that Wheeler can bring to this team that is going through a transition period after also losing franchise cornerstone Candace Parker shouldn't be overlooked. -- JW
Alysha Clark, Mystics: With all of the stars moving around, there wasn't too much made of the Mystics signing Clark, but it was a perfect addition, especially after Aerial Powers' departure. Often overlooked in Seattle, Clark is perhaps the best role player in the league. She can guard anywhere on the floor, has turned herself into one of the best 3-point shooters in the league and almost never misses games. In short, she's exactly what a contender like the Mystics needs. -- JM
Was there any move that you found confusing?
Most everything the Storm did: Seattle didn't have much of a choice in losing Alysha Clark, who was an unrestricted free agent, and the same goes for Natasha Howard, who requested a trade. But the Storm did have control over the moves they made in trying to fill the gaping holes left behind by those two players. Clark and Howard were both important starters for Seattle in its journey to win a championship, and all it got in return were players that, at best, could serve as role players. As the defending champions, you would expect the Storm would re-up to try and win yet another title, and while this team still has tons of talent -- and Breanna Stewart can cover several deficiencies -- it's hard to look at the moves they made and think it really made sense. -- JW
The Fever's offseason in general: After four straight seasons without a postseason appearance, general manager Tamika Catchings made a point this offseason to say that she doesn't want the team to be in the draft lottery ever again. Yet after finishing in 11th place last season their only significant moves were signing Danielle Robinson and Jantel Lavender. Which, no offense to them as they've had nice careers, but those two aren't leading you to the playoffs in 2021. Honestly, part of you has to wonder if this is a stealth tank situation, where they're putting on appearances of trying to be competitive, while privately hoping for some lottery luck. -- JM
Which team are you most excited to watch heading into next season?
Chicago Sky: The addition of Candace Parker will certainly bring some buzz to the Sky, who have been a team on the cusp of competing for a championship for a couple of seasons now. Although Parker is no longer in her prime, the championship pedigree and competitive attitude she will bring to this Chicago squad that is looking to break through into the contender conversation will be invaluable. This is going to be an incredibly entertaining team with Parker, Allie Quigley, Kahleah Copper and the wealth of depth the Sky have. -- JW
Chicago Sky: Apologies to the Aces, who just miss the cut here, but the answer has to be the Sky. This will be the first time Candace Parker has played for a team besides the Sparks, and she'll do so by returning to her hometown to lead a Sky team in search of their first title. You couldn't write a better story than that. And then, on the court, it will be fascinating to see how Parker fits in with the likes of Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Diamond DeShields. That offense should be electric. -- JM