The 2021 WNBA free agency period is starting off with a bang. Candace Parker, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and former MVP, will be leaving the Los Angeles Sparks after 13 seasons to play for the Chicago Sky, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Parker is unrestricted, but it's not clear yet if this will be a straight free agent signing, or whether the two teams will negotiate a sign-and-trade. That all depends on what sort of salary Parker is demanding, and won't be determined until deals can become official on Feb. 1. The supermax for veterans like Parker is $221,000 per year, and the Sky only have about $258,000 in cap space, with a few roster spots to fill. If Parker wants the supermax -- which she deserves -- the Sky will have to make some corresponding moves.
But while there might still be some business to sort out, the Sky will be adding one of the best players in the league, and that's the most important thing from their point of view. Even if she's well past her prime, there just aren't many players who can impact the game in as many ways as Parker -- something she proved last summer when she put together one of her most efficient offensive seasons and won DPOY.
The Sky have been moving in the right direction the last few seasons under new coach James Wade, but they were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion in the 2019 playoffs and were riddled by injuries towards the end of last season, which led to another early playoff exit. They'll hope that Parker can help them take the next step to true contention status.
As for the Sparks, it will be interesting to see how they react. Parker did not have a great relationship with coach Derek Fisher, who also became GM earlier this offseason, and it's easy to wonder if that had something to do with her departure. In any case, there are more big questions ahead for them with Nneka Ogwumike -- given core designation to ensure exclusive negotiating rights -- Chelsea Gray, Brittney Sykes and Riquna Williams all also hitting free agency.