Free agency in the WNBA is well underway and most of the best players are off the board at this point. Candace Parker surprised everyone by leaving the Los Angeles Sparks to join the Chicago Sky, while fellow legends Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) decided to re-sign with their longtime clubs.
Other notable moves included the Minnesota Lynx adding Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers and Natalie Achonwa, the Las Vegas Aces signing Chelsea Gray and the Washington Mystics stealing Alysha Clark away from the Storm. Plus, the Connecticut Sun re-signed Alyssa Thomas, the New York Liberty got Betnijah Laney and the Atlanta Dream inked Cheyenne Parker.
But there are still some interesting players left unsigned, including a few stars. Here's a look at the best remaining free agents:
Note: This list does not include cored players, nor players who sat out last season and had their contract expire. There are some notable players among those groups, including Liz Cambage, Natasha Howard and Natasha Cloud, but even though they remain unsigned their teams all have exclusive negotiating rights.
1. Emma Meesseman -- Unrestricted
Last month, Meesseman checked in at No. 4 on our list of the top 10 unrestricted free agents. Now, she's the only player from that group without a new deal, and it might be a while before that changes due to some logistical matters.
Though she is an unrestricted free agent, it's widely assumed that Meesseman will return to the Washington Mystics. When that happens, however, remains to be seen. EuroBasket Women and the Olympics are both set for this summer, and Mystics coach Mike Thibault said recently that Meesseman will likely remain with the Belgian national team until those competitions are over, rather than bouncing back and forth to the WNBA.
In a perfect world for the Mystics, Meesseman would join the team after her overseas commitments, and do so at a pro-rated salary for the remainder of the season, which would help with their cap crunch. But obviously that's a lot to ask of the 2019 Finals MVP, and it's clear there's still a lot of details to figure out with her situation.
2. Tina Charles -- Unrestricted
This is another one where we're pretty sure what's going to happen, but nothing has been made official. In fact, Thibault said on Monday that the Mystics were hoping to have a deal finalized with Charles within 24-48 hours, but, obviously, that hasn't happened. It's safe to assume it will soon as both sides have incentives to come to an agreement.
Ahead of last season, the Mystics gave up Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and a number of picks to acquire Charles, but she sat out of the bubble due to COVID-19 concerns. Letting her walk in free agency without ever having played a game for the team would make that big trade a complete waste.
As for Charles, she wanted to join the Mystics in the first place because of her relationship with Thibault and the ability to compete for a championship. Well, Thibault is still in charge and the Mystics are set to be one of the main contenders for the 2021 WNBA title, so Washington is still the best situation for her.
3. Sami Whitcomb -- Restricted
The Seattle Storm have been in the news a lot in early days of free agency, as they came to agreements with Sue Bird and Epiphanny Prince, and lost key forward Alysha Clark to the Mystics. Next up on their docket are Natasha Howard and Whitcomb. They cored Howard, which means she should eventually be back, but Whitcomb's situation is less clear.
Losing Clark would seem to give the Storm extra incentive to retain Whitcomb, but they have some cap concerns, which is why Bird reportedly won't finalize her agreement until the end of free agency, when the team has figured everything else out. In the interim, there's always the possibility that another team could come calling for Whitcomb and give her more money than the Storm can offer. As one of the best pure shooters in the league, she's sure to have plenty of admirers.
4. Riquna Williams -- Unrestricted
Last season was a bounce-back summer for Williams, who played her best basketball since 2015 -- the year before she tore her Achilles tendon. She's a scoring threat off the bench, and if she continues to shoot the ball as well as she did last season when she made a career-high 42.2 percent of her 3-point attempts, she'll be a perennial Sixth Woman of the Year candidate.
It will be interesting to see where Williams winds up this offseason. The Sparks have some cap flexibility now that Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray left, but they also have a crowded backcourt. Kristi Toliver is back after sitting out last season, they signed Erica Wheeler, re-signed Te'a Cooper and Brittany Sykes and still have Sydney Wiese. Williams could easily go elsewhere, especially if she wants a bigger role.
5. Jessica Breland -- Unrestricted
Breland sat out last season after being ruled medically exempt, and there's a bit of a risk with signing an older player who hasn't been in a meaningful game in nearly two years. That being said, she's one of the most versatile frontcourt defenders in the league and was First Team All-Defense as recently as 2018. If she's healthy and able to get back to something close to that level, she could end up being a really smart signing for a contender.
The Mercury signed her ahead of the 2020 season, but she never suited up for the team and it's unclear if she'll be back. They have limited funds available and also have Kia Vaughn and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough hitting free agency.
At this point, you're really splitting hairs, and if you wanted to make an argument that one of these players should be at No. 5, you could do so pretty easily. In any case, here's a quick look at the best of the rest:
- Candice Dupree (Unrestricted): The seven-time All-Star is now well into the latter stages of her career, but she will still get you some buckets. She's not returning to the Fever, and it will be interesting to see where she lands.
- Glory Johnson (Unrestricted): Once one of the most exciting and athletic forwards in the league, Johnson has taken a big step back the last few seasons. Could provide some experience off the bench, but her best days seem to be behind her.
- Kia Vaughn (Unrestricted): Has always been a really solid and dependable player, but isn't going to make a major impact at this stage of her career. Might be useful as some extra frontcourt depth for a contender.
- Shatori Walker-Kimbrough: Arguably the most upside of this group. Showed some really nice flashes last season with the Mercury, but hasn't been able to put things together on a consistent basis.
- Amanda Zahui B. (Unrestricted): The former No. 2 overall pick, she'll block shots and rebound, but the bigger questions are on the offensive side of the ball. She likes to operate as a stretch five, but has never shot better than 34.4 percent from 3.