PHOENIX MERCURY

Ex-Mercury PG Skylar Diggins-Smith signs with Storm as WNBA free agency begins

Feb 1, 2024, 10:37 AM | Updated: 10:37 am

Skylar Diggins-Smith...

Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury during the WNBA game at Footprint Center on July 07, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Liberty 84-81. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Liberty are bringing their core group back and trying to add another piece with prized free agent Nneka Ogwumike while Seattle signed Skylar Diggins-Smith as WNBA free agency tipped off Thursday.

Diggins-Smith returns to the league after giving birth to her second child and sitting out last season. The six-time All-Star, who last played with the Phoenix Mercury, has averaged 16.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in her career and reunites with fellow Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd.

“Joining the Seattle Storm is the ideal next step in my basketball journey. The organization’s dedication to its players and the progression of the league is commendable,” Diggins-Smith said. “I’m laser-focused for the upcoming season. Stepping onto the court alongside Jewell, benefiting from the leadership of Noelle Quinn and feeling the energy of the Seattle Storm fans is a combination that I am confident will lead to success.”

The Liberty, who made it to the WNBA Finals last season before losing to the Las Vegas Aces, met with Ogwumike, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because on-going negotiations were private.

Ogwumike watched the Nets-Suns game courtside on Wednesday night with Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Betnijah Laney.

Ogwumike has spent her entire career with the Los Angeles Sparks since getting drafted No. 1 by the team in 2012, but said she was going to play somewhere else this season.

New York assigned a franchise tag to Stewart a few weeks ago and is set to bring back free agent center Jonquel Jones, according to a person familiar with the deal. That person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made on her signing.

ESPN was the first to report on Ogwumike and Jones.

Other moves made on the first day of free agency included Dallas re-signing Satou Sabally and Kalani Brown. Sabally, who was a restricted free agent, averaged career highs in points (18.6), rebounds (8.1) and assists (4.4) last season. Brown is coming off a career-year where she averaged 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. The Wings return virtually their entire team that lost in the WNBA semifinals to the Las Vegas Aces.

The tow-time defending champion Aces brought back free agents Kiah Stokes and Sydney Colson. They also signed free agent Megan Gustafson.

Courtney Williams and Alanna Smith signed with the Minnesota Lynx. Williams had a stellar season with Chicago last year, averaging 10.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and a career-best 6.3 assists.

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