Theopened on Jan. 21, which means teams are now allowed to meet with players and offer contracts. However, nothing can be officially signed until Feb. 1, when the moratorium ends. With , and various teams boasting significant cap space, the next few weeks figure to be a thrilling time for fans across the league.
As the action heats up, here are some updates on the biggest names:
Stewart to meet with four teams, has interest in playing with Vandersloot
For the second year in a row, Breanna Stewart is the unquestioned top free agent. Already an all-time great at 28 years old, she has her choice of destinations and has narrowed it down to four teams, according to Ramona Shelburne. Stewart will meet with the Seattle Storm, New York Liberty, Minnesota Lynx and Washington Mystics.
Stewart, who is from Syracuse, New York, notably met with the Liberty last winter during free agency before signing a one-year deal to return to the Storm, the only franchise she has ever known. During her end-of-season press conference in October, she made it clear that she would explore free agency again before making a decision on her future, so it's no surprise that she's taking multiple meetings.
The most interesting note is that Stewart has an interest in playing with Courtney Vandersloot, per Shelburne. Vandersloot, one of the league's best-ever point guards, is expected to meet with the Chicago Sky, Storm, Liberty and Lynx, and there are signs that point to them being a package deal.
At this point, the Storm and Liberty would seem to have the upper hand, though no further details have been reported. Stewart has spent her whole career with the Storm, has won two titles there and loves playing with Jewell Loyd, while Vandersloot is a Washington native. The Liberty, meanwhile, have a previous relationship with Stewart from last year, recently traded for Jonquel Jones and play in her home state.
If Stewart and Vandersloot do end up playing together, it would turn whatever team they pick into an instant title contender and also sink the fortunes of at least one other club.
Parker deciding between Sky and Sparks, but will take Aces meeting
Candace Parker is also an unrestricted free agent this winter, and like Stewart could pretty much play wherever she wants. To that point, she will take a meeting with the Las Vegas Aces, who opened up max cap space by trading away Dearica Hamby, according to Annie Costabile. However, per Costabile, Parker's decision will ultimately come down to the Chicago Sky and Los Angeles Sparks.
Parker, of course, spent the first 13 seasons of her career with the Sparks before making a dramatic homecoming to Chicago, where she led the Sky to the first title in franchise history in 2021. On some level, it would be a surprise for her to leave home so soon after returning, but nearly the entire core of last season's Sky team is hitting free agency. Parker, now 36, has publicly flirted with retirement and wants to play for a winner at this stage of her career. If she sees the writing on the wall for this Sky group and believes she'll have a better chance to compete for a title elsewhere, perhaps she'll leave.
It's notable that the Sparks are reportedly the only other team she's seriously considering. That franchise has undergone a total rehaul since she left a few years ago, and now boasts new head coach Curt Miller and nearly $1 million in cap space. Heading back to Southern California to team up with her good friend Nneka Ogwumike again -- assuming Ogwumike returns to the Sparks herself -- could be enticing.
Sky facing uncertain future
The Sky have spent the past few seasons near the top of the league, but their time as a perennial title contender may be coming to an end. Parker, Vandersloot, Emma Meesseman, Azura Stevens and Allie Quigley are unrestricted free agents, and it seems unlikely that all of them will be back.
Parker and Vandersloot are, obviously, the two most important players in that mix. The former's situation, as already noted, is rather simple, per reports. She'll either stay with the Sky or go back to the Sparks. Vandersloot, however, seems intent on exploring free agency and perhaps teaming up with Stewart. If she does the latter, it will not be in Chicago, and could also inform Parker's decision.
As for some of the other players in the mix, Stevens, who is coming off another solid season as a spot starter, has received interest from eight different teams, including the Lynx, per Costabile. She could stick with the Sky but may look to go elsewhere if that would come with a bigger role.
There hasn't been much in the way of reports about Meesseman's future, but it's worth noting that this is a EuroBasket Women summer, and she is Belgium's key player. She sat out of the 2021 WNBA season to focus on the international game; would she do so again? If not, her versatile and complementary skills will make her a target for countless WNBA teams.
Quigley, meanwhile, could be a package deal with her wife, Vandersloot. We'll have to wait and see on that front.