The Los Angeles Sparks entered 2021 WNBA free agency with three stars -- Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray -- hitting the market. A few weeks later, Ogwumike is the only one left. Parker reportedly agreed to join the Chicago Sky, and now Gray is on her way out as well.
After spending the past five seasons in Los Angeles, and helping the Sparks win the 2016 title, Gray is set to join the Las Vegas Aces, according to Howard Megdal of The Next. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, and it cannot become official until Feb. 1.
Gray was by far the best point guard on the market, and this is a huge pick-up for Vegas, especially after Kayla McBride decided to sign with the Minnesota Lynx. Along with being a solid wing defender, McBride was one of the few perimeter threats on an Aces team that struggled to space the floor and rarely shot 3-pointers last season.
While not a perfect like-for-like replacement, Gray will help address the shooting void left by McBride's departure, and also gives the Aces the star point guard they need to go along with their dominant frontcourt of A'ja Wilson and Liz Cambage -- assuming the latter re-signs.
One of the most entertaining passers in this league, and a highly-skilled operator in the pick-and-roll, Gray will make life much easier for her new teammates. Last season, the Sparks scored 1.142 points per possession with Gray made a pass out of pick-and-rolls, per Synergy Sports. Of players with at least 50 possessions, only Chennedy Carter and Courtney Vandersloot produced more efficient offense for their teams.
The Aces finished tied for the best record in the league last season and made the Finals, all without Cambage or Kelsey Plum. With those two back, and the addition of Gray, they figure to be even more of a threat in 2021.
As for the Sparks, they are clearly now entering a new era. Parker was the face of the franchise for over a decade, and Gray had become a staple on their championship winning and contending teams. Ogwumike is reportedly re-signing, and Kristi Toliver will be back this summer, so they'll still have a solid team, but unless they make a big move here in the next few days they'll no longer be among the league's elite.