The defending champion Las Vegas Aces have agreed to trade two-time Sixth Player of the Year Dearica Hamby to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Amanda Zahui B., the team announced on Saturday. In addition, the Aces will send their 2024 first-round pick to the Sparks and receive the Sparks' 2024 second-round pick.
"Dearica has dedicated eight years of her career to this organization, and played a big role in our success since the team moved to Las Vegas," Aces general manager Natalie Williams said in a statement. "We're going to miss her as a teammate, and are grateful for all of her contributions to the Aces over the years."
Let's grade the trade:
- Amanda Zahui B.
- Sparks' 2024 second-round pick
Hamby, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, had spent her entire career with the Aces franchise dating back to their days in San Antonio. Along the way, she became a vital cog in their title contending teams, winning Sixth Player of the Year in 2019 and 2020 and making the All-Star Game in 2021 and 2022.
It's notable, though, that as they went on their championship run last season, they did so largely without Hamby. She was moved to the bench in August, and a short time later suffered a knee injury that kept her out until the second round of the playoffs. Though she did appear in six postseason games, she only scored seven points in 51 total minutes.
Their playoff success without Hamby, combined with a chance to shed salary seems to be the driving force behind the trade. Zahui B. did not play last season after her contract was suspended by the Sparks, and she is now a free agent. Under the "contract expired -- suspended" designation, the Aces have exclusive negotiating rights with Zahui B. but do not have to sign her. They could just use this as a salary dump, clear Hamby's $169,000 from the books, and then have enough money to chase a max free agent.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
It's also worth noting that at the Aces' championship parade, Hamby announced that she was pregnant with her second child, and earlier this month she released a tweet that seemed to take a shot at the Aces. "Imagine expressing your fears as a woman and being pregnant in this profession/world," Hamby wrote. "Then to be reassured that you were supported.. and your back was "had"…. only to then be used against you. Lmao."
How much her pregnancy factored into the decision is unclear, but the two sides were obviously not on the same page heading into the season.
Until we see what else the Aces do, this grade feels incomplete. Zahui B. is not afraid to let it fly from 3 -- though she's been inconsistent from deep in her career -- and would fit into the Aces' five-out system as a big who can space the floor. Trading Hamby and a first for her, however, would be a bad deal for the Aces. But if this is a salary dump and the Aces end up bringing in another star for their title defense, then it could be a great move. Time will tell.
- Dearica Hamby
- Aces' 2024 first-round pick
Last season was a major disappointment for the Sparks after bringing in some big names in the offseason. Liz Cambage left the team in the middle of the season, Chennedy Carter played sparingly, if at all, Derek Fisher was fired as head coach and general manager and they went 13-23.
They've already begun another massive overhaul that started with hiring Curt Miller as the new head coach in October. Earlier this month they traded for veteran point guard Jasmine Thomas, who spent the past seven seasons playing for Miller with the Sun. With only three guaranteed contracts on the books and nearly $1 million in cap space, they have room to maneuver this winter.
Even given Hamby's pregnancy, this is a strong move and another indication of their intentions: they want to build a veteran squad and get back to the playoffs. Regarding Hamby's status, she said in October that she hopes not to miss much time as long as there are no complications.
"The plan is for me to be back. I'm due in March," Hamby said. "Will I be 100% by the start of the season? If everything goes according to plan, I'll be back pretty close to the start of the season."
Whether her plans change after the trade and how her body handles the birth remains to be seen. The Sparks begin their season on May 19 against the Phoenix Mercury, which may be too soon for Hamby, but all signs point to her playing at some point this season. That would be a huge boost for the Sparks, both on the court and in their pursuit to attract free agents (Candace Parker, perhaps?).
Getting a first-round pick as well, while only giving up a player that didn't suit up for them last season, is a major win for the Sparks. Even if that pick ends up being a late first, it's another swing at the draft, essentially for free. This is all upside, no risk for Los Angeles.