2021 WNBA Free Agency Preview

Welcome to Winsidr’s 2021 WNBA free agency preview. We’re here to get you ready for the offseason and all things WNBA free agency with individual sections on all 12 teams and full free agent rankings. Be sure to stay tuned later this week for the launch of our offseason tracker where we’ll compile news and tidbits on every signing, keep you up to date with team cap space projections, update team depth charts, and react to the stories of the day throughout the WNBA free agency period and the rest of the offseason. 

Breakout sections for each team below will include one-line overviews, offseason objectives, team needs, players to target in free agency, and more. Note that the “dream” targets are defined by the team’s situation. A team without much cap space might just need to fill out the bench, while a team with space could look to lure a bigger name. One proposed 2021 WNBA free agency roster outline will also be included for each team with some cap space estimates. It’s important to note that these are rough outlines of something closer to a final roster, not a current projection for January and February when teams will have more balls in the air.

Full position-by-position 2021 WNBA free agency rankings will be posted below. Each position will be divided into several rough tiers. Note that some clusters include several players seen on equal standing in the overall rankings. Factors like age, injury history, and fit vary when considering a player as a target for a specific team. Members of the 2020 draft class are included, along with any player involved in a transaction in the 2020 league year with help from the Across The Timeline database. Not included in the rankings: players such as Marta Xargay that teams still have rights to but haven’t come over in at least a few years and Maya Moore (Suspended – Contract Expired). 

Our team-by-team outlooks will roughly follow the order of how they finished in 2020. All free agent salary information has been derived from the Her Hoop Stats database and their 2021 free agent list. The league has not published an official free agent list yet as the deadline has not passed for teams to submit qualifying offers and make decisions with the core designation. Note that all ‘Suspended – Contract Expired’ players, as noted by Her Hoop Stats, can only negotiate with their prior team. Several WNBA free agency shorthands and reference points that will be used throughout: UFA (unrestricted free agent), RFA (restricted free agent), RP (reserved player), upper maximum salary ($221,450 for 2021), lower maximum salary ($190,550 for 2021), veteran’s minimum salary ($70,040 for 2021), rookie minimum salary ($58,710 for 2021), cap space (amount of money left to spend below the $1,339,000 league-wide hard cap for 2021). We’ll be acting for now as if established international players intend to come over in 2021, though those plans certainly may be impacted by COVID-19, the Olympics, and players opting to take time to train with their national teams. 

Jump ahead to: Atlanta Dream | Chicago Sky | Connecticut Sun | Dallas Wings | Indiana Fever | Las Vegas Aces | Los Angeles Sparks | Minnesota Lynx | New York Liberty | Phoenix Mercury | Seattle Storm | Washington Mystics | Free agent rankings 

Seattle Storm

2020 finish

18-4 (No. 2 seed), defeated Las Vegas (3-0) in Finals 

State of the Storm 

Looking to run it back and win a third title in four years 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Sue Bird, Natasha Howard, and Alysha Clark (UFAs) 
  • If all three are back, get Clark on a descending salary structure knowing Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd are hitting free agency in 2022 
  • Add depth on the perimeter 

Team building blocks

Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, Ezi Magbegor, plus Howard, Clark and Bird (if re-signed)

Team needs

  • Waiving Crystal Langhorne and Morgan Tuck to open up more cap room 
  • 3-and-D backup wing and/or a reserve shooter/ball-handler 
  • Backup power forward if there’s a possibility Magbegor might not come over or be available for all of 2021 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Tianna Hawkins (UFA), Essence Carson (UFA), Kamiah Smalls (FA status unknown)
  • Sami Whitcomb (RFA) having virtually no market or taking a discount 

Get used to seeing Hawkins’ name as a backup stretch big to target. Carson, 34, has the skill set to spot up and defend bigger players on the perimeter, but how much is left in the tank at this point? Smalls could be an interesting target as a big guard and a good shooter that could also handle the ball some. Seattle could also look to fill that fourth guard spot by re-signing veteran Epiphanny Prince (UFA). 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Inability to pay all three starters the upper maximum and keep the bench together 
  • Having enough room to re-sign Whitcomb after re-signing all three starters 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 11
  • Round 2 Pick 6 (via CON)
  • Round 2 Pick 11
  • Round 3 Pick 11 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Bird and Howard each at the upper max and Clark at $185,000
  • Already under contract for 2021: Stewart, Loyd, Jordin Canada, Mercedes Russell, Kitija Laksa, Ezi Magbegor 
  • The No. 11 overall pick
  • One bench player at the veteran’s minimum 
  • Starting the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $3,000 in cap room 

Best case

Ready to compete for another championship after re-signing Bird, Clark and Howard 

Worst case

Howard and/or Clark opt to look elsewhere, and without regrouping by somehow landing another star player, a good team in 2021 won’t quite pack the same kind of punch to win another ring 

Listen: Seattle Storm season in review, offseason preview with Kevin Pelton

Las Vegas Aces

2020 finish

18-4 (No. 1 seed), defeated in Finals (3-0) by Seattle 

State of the Aces 

Fully capable of taking the next step in a semifinals-Finals trip-hopeful Finals victory progression 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Liz Cambage, Kayla McBride, and Danielle Robinson (UFAs)
  • Find a wing shooter for the bench, including a possible return for Sugar Rodgers (UFA)

Team building blocks

Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson, Dearica Hamby, Angel McCoughtry, Jackie Young, plus Cambage and McBride (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Strong backup point guard play with Plum coming back from an Achilles tear 
  • Veteran wing shooter, or a younger player to develop in that spot 
  • Decisions on the final frontcourt spot(s), depending on JiSu Park’s plans for 2021 and the team’s outlook on free agents Emma Cannon (RP) and Carolyn Swords (UFA)

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Erica Wheeler (UFA)
  • Aerial Powers or Betnijah Laney (UFAs)
  • Glory Johnson or Tianna Hawkins (UFAs)

If Robinson isn’t re-signed as the backup point guard, Wheeler’s shooting would make it much easier to contribute as a complementary offensive option in their halfcourt offense in the playoffs. With somebody like Laney or Powers, perhaps the Aces could even point out with a wink that Angel McCoughtry will be a free agent next offseason. “Put us over the top to win a title now, and we’ll bring you back as the starter at the 3 to help us win a few more,” has a nice ring to it. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But the Aces at least have a path to run it back and cobble together a solid one-year offer to add to their bench in a big way. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Knowing Robinson’s offensive limitations, will Plum be the same player upon her return? 
  • Can they count on Young to take another step forward offensively to become a more reliable option in the playoffs? 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 12
  • Round 2 Pick 12
  • Round 3 Pick 12 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Cambage at the upper max, McBride at $185,000
  • Already under contract for 2021: Plum, McCoughtry, Hamby, Wilson, Young
  • The No. 12 overall pick 
  • One player at the veteran’s minimum
  • One player at the rookie minimum (possibly JiSu Park or Emma Cannon)
  • 11th player at $120,000 
  • This path: would start the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $5,000 in cap room
  • Alternate paths available to i) bump up McBride’s salary instead, ii) spread the available cap space around on multiple veteran free agents, or iii) bump up the $120,000 to the $140,000 range 
  • 2021 Las Vegas free agents not mentioned already: Cierra Burdick (RFA), Lindsay Allen (RP)

Best case

Ready to make another run at a top-two seed and Finals run with McBride and Cambage re-signed, possibly with an even deeper bench 

Worst case

Losing an All-Star, Robinson walks, and the team enters opening day with some depth concerns 

Listen: Aces season in review, offseason preview with Jason Orts

Connecticut Sun

2020 finish

10-12 (No. 7 seed), defeated in semifinals (3-2) by Las Vegas 

State of the Sun 

Ready to get back to the Finals with Jonquel Jones back in the mix after already being minutes away in 2020 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas (UFAs) 
  • Without a first-round pick and likely to be low on cap room, aggressively pursue options to add depth that can help you win now 

Team building blocks

Jones, DeWanna Bonner, Briann January, plus Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • A wing shooter or another reliable backup guard 
  • Backup stretch big 
  • Some of their draft sleepers to drop to the late second round 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Sami Whitcomb (RFA), Megan Huff (UFA), and roster one of the second rounders
  • Re-sign Brionna Jones (RFA), plus two more players at the veteran’s minimum—possibly taking a discount because they think they can win in Connecticut  

Two bullet points, two paths. We’ll outline the top scenario down below. The gist: fill out the roster with rookie minimums or late-round picks in order to throw an offer sheet at Whitcomb starting in the $100,000 ballpark. Will that even be enough for Whitcomb? Maybe not. They could follow a similar blueprint to chase somebody else, too. Whitcomb’s shooting would really make them whole, and January and Natisha Hiedeman (RP) could fill all of the backup point guard minutes. It may be too out there to suggest moving on from Jones. A lot will ride on their confidence in Beatrice Mompremier (RP), but the tradeoff would be worth it if there’s mutual interest with Whitcomb. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Re-signing Jones if another team hits her with a big offer sheet 
  • After bringing back Mompremier, will they carry four or five bigs on the opening day roster? 
  • Too many of their top external targets finding more money elsewhere 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 2 Pick 8 (via PHX)
  • Round 2 Pick 9 (via MIN)
  • Round 3 Pick 6
  • Outgoing: Round 1 Pick 6 (to PHX), Round 2 Pick 6 (to SEA) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Alyssa Thomas at the upper max, Jasmine Thomas at $185,000
  • Already under contract for 2021: Bonner, Jones, January, Kaila Charles
  • Re-sign Hiedeman and Mompremier (RPs) at the minimum 
  • Make a run at Whitcomb—or another player, possibly via trade—with a starting salary around $100,000
  • One player at the rookie minimum 
  • One 2021 second-round pick, or another player at the rookie minimum 
  • Starting the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $1,000 (or $4,000) in space 
  • 2021 Connecticut free agents not mentioned already: Bria Holmes (UFA), Theresa Plaisance (UFA), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (UFA), Essence Carson (UFA)

Best case

Back in the Finals with a menacing defense and Bonner and Jones finally playing together 

Worst case

A starter walks and/or depth becomes a problem as the young reserves struggle to find consistency, making them a solid playoff team rather than a surefire Finals contender  

Note: The Sun have announced the re-signings of Hiedeman (January 8) and Mompremier (January 11). 

Listen: Sun season in review, offseason preview with Alexa Philippou

Minnesota Lynx

2020 finish

14-8 (No. 4 seed), defeated in semifinals (3-0) by Seattle 

State of the Lynx 

Too good to reload through the lottery, in search of another star 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Aggressively pursue the top free agents and monitor the trade market 
  • Determine how their most versatile players will affect what they do with their final spots 

Team building blocks

Crystal Dangerfield, Napheesa Collier, Damiris Dantas, Sylvia Fowles 

Team needs

  • A well-rounded shooter/scorer/playmaker on the perimeter that can be a high-impact player in the playoffs 
  • A plan if a frontcourt star wants to join them in free agency 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Chelsea Gray (UFA) 
  • Aerial Powers (UFA), Betnijah Laney (UFA), Kayla McBride (UFA), Brittney Sykes (RFA), or Allisha Gray (RFA)

The five wings below Gray are listed in order of preference. Of course, Minnesota’s own list may differ, as could the kind of contracts the Lynx would be willing to offer each player. Powers has the most juice of that bunch to play off other stars and tap into her explosiveness to beat people one on one or create advantages for others. Gray seems like a pretty straightforward proposition, a clean fit to play with Dangerfield then take more control in the postseason. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Pivoting to Plan B, C, etc. if you don’t land your top target(s) without striking a deal you’ll regret later 
  • Possibly not getting a chance to further evaluate Cecilia Zandalasini (Suspended – Contract Expired) in the WNBA this season 
  • Trimming the roster down to 12 if you add several players via free agency and the draft 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 9 
  • Outgoing: Round 2 Pick 9 (to CON), Round 3 Pick 9 (to IND) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • One big free agent signing at the lower max 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Dangerfield, Fowles, Collier, Dantas, Odyssey Sims, Rachel Banham, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, Jessica Shepard, Lexie Brown
  • The No. 9 overall pick
  • $106,000 cap hit for Karima Christmas-Kelly (waived in 2020) 
  • Re-sign Carleton at the minimum 
  • 12 players under contract, about $138,000 in space
  • 2021 Minnesota free agents not mentioned already: Maya Moore (Suspended – Contract Expired), Shenise Johnson (UFA), Kayla Alexander (UFA), Erica McCall (RFA), Temi Fagbenle (RP) 

Best case

Ready to make an even deeper playoff run after making a big splash 

Worst case

Still starting the season with a likely playoff team hoping Collier and Dangerfield continue to improve 

Note: The Lynx announced the re-signing of Carleton on January 9. 

Listen: Lynx season in review, offseason preview with Katie Davidson

Los Angeles Sparks

2020 finish

15-7 (No. 3 seed), defeated in round two by Connecticut 

State of the Sparks 

Ready to win…if they can bring everyone back 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray (UFAs)
  • Re-sign Brittney Sykes (RFA), Chiney Ogwumike (Suspended – Contract Expired) and Te’a Cooper (RP) 

Team building blocks

Kristi Toliver, Maria Vadeeva, plus whoever they manage to re-sign from the list above 

Team needs

  • Running it back 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • See “Team needs” 

Let’s try to quickly run through L.A.’s salary cap reality, assuming everyone wants to return. Pencil Parker, Gray and Nneka Ogwumike in at the upper max. Think of it as gravy if any one of those three takes any kind of discount, and perhaps that money can help bump up somebody else’s salary. Waive Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Marie Gülich to open up more room, ink Cooper and Chiney Ogwumike at their respective minimums, and you can start Brittney Sykes around $90,000. Sydney Wiese, the No. 10 pick, Vadeeva and Kristine Anigwe round out the bench. The Sparks should be doing backflips if they can pull something like that off. That’s quite a roster. 

Sykes might be even more important in all of this than you think. Under this scenario, another team could fly in with an offer sheet the Sparks simply wouldn’t be able to match. Then they’re in trouble because it seems very unlikely that they could land somebody as talented as Sykes at that number to be the starting small forward and fifth player in crunch time around their Big Four. As a break-in-case-of-emergency option, the Sparks could waive/trade Sydney Wiese, trade the No. 10 pick and sign two players at the rookie minimum instead to open up another $26,000 or so in room to use for Sykes & co. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • A robust market for Sykes
  • The same compounding effect we already saw with their frontcourt depth this past season without Chiney Ogwumike and if Vadeeva doesn’t come over again 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 10
  • Round 2 Pick 10 
  • Round 3 Pick 4 (via DAL) 
  • Round 3 Pick 10 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Gray, Parker and Nneka Ogwumike at the upper max 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Toliver, Wiese, Vadeeva, Anigwe 
  • Re-sign Sykes at $90,000 
  • Re-sign Chiney Ogwumike at the veteran’s minimum
  • Re-sign Cooper at the rookie minimum 
  • Waive Ruffin-Pratt and Gülich 
  • The No. 10 overall pick 
  • Starting the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $4,000 in room 
  • 2021 Los Angeles free agents not mentioned already: Riquna Williams (UFA), Seimone Augustus (UFA), Reshanda Gray (RFA)

Best case

The full “run it back” outlined above, in position to win it all 

Worst case

A partial “run it back” that leaves them a clear cut below the top contenders 

Note: Rachel Galligan and Chris Haynes reported that the Sparks have re-signed Cooper [story; team release, 1/11]. 

Listen: Sparks season in review, offseason preview with Sabreena Merchant

Phoenix Mercury

2020 finish

13-9 (No. 5 seed), defeated in round two by Minnesota 

State of the Mercury

Loading up to win one more with Diana Taurasi 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Taurasi (UFA) 
  • Find some bargain signings 

Team building blocks

Skylar Diggins-Smith, Bria Hartley, Brittney Griner, Brianna Turner, Taurasi (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Reliable frontcourt depth
  • Shooter off the bench, perimeter defense 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Betnijah Laney (UFA)
  • Re-signing Kia Vaughn (UFA)
  • Re-signing Shey Peddy (RP) 

This is another situation that looks pretty cut and dry. Taurasi gets the upper max and you have about $240,000 left to spend with eight players on the roster (including the No. 6 pick). You’re probably carrying 11 rather than 12 players in this case. If you get two players at the veteran’s minimum, you can offer that third player about $100,000 on the dot. Would that starting spot at the 3 have any appeal to Laney? Phoenix sure could use her defense. Vaughn was rock solid in her role last season, and Peddy might be about as good as you can get for that slot as a bench 3-and-D guard type. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Adding players you really trust to the rotation with limited cap room 
  • Several of their own notable free agents haven’t even been mentioned yet. Who should they prioritize? Who’s out of their price range? 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 6 (via CON) 
  • Round 3 Pick 8 
  • Outgoing: Round 1 Pick 8 (to CHI via DAL), Round 2 Pick 8 (to CON) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Taurasi at the upper max 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Diggins-Smith, Hartley, Griner, Turner, Sophie Cunningham, Alanna Smith
  • Re-sign Vaughn and Peddy at the minimum
  • The No. 6 overall pick 
  • Sign an 11th player starting at $100,000 
  • Starting the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $1,000 in room 
  • 2021 Phoenix free agents not mentioned already: Jessica Breland (UFA), Nia Coffey (RFA), Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (RFA), Alisia Jenkins (FA status unknown), Yvonne Turner (Suspended – Contract Expired) 

Best case

Re-sign Taurasi and make the most of your remaining spots with some veterans that want to win 

Worst case

Depth looks like a major concern entering the season even with Taurasi back  

Chicago Sky

2020 finish

12-10 (No. 6 seed), defeated in round one by Connecticut 

State of the Sky

Seeing how far this team can go in the back end of a distinct two-year window 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Cheyenne Parker (UFA)
  • Address the backup point guard spot 

Team building blocks

Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, Diamond DeShields, Azurá Stevens, plus Parker (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Steadier backup point guard play 
  • A Parker contingency plan 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Natasha Howard (UFA)
  • Nneka Ogwumike (UFA)
  • Candace Parker (UFA) 

Chicago can get very close to opening up a slot for one player at the upper max. That sounds favorable in Cheyenne Parker’s case; it’s still more than other teams can offer her outright as a free agent signing. To get all the way there, though, and possibly acquire a big name in a sign-and-trade, Chicago would nearly need to strip its roster bare or trade one big-salary player. They have some options at backup point guard. Sydney Colson (UFA) would fare much better given a full training camp with the team and a normal ramp up to the season. The Sky could also draft a guard in the first round or look elsewhere in free agency. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Getting a great read on which players will be available at No. 8. At what point could a trade be more helpful? 
  • Limited maneuverability to pull off a string of multiple transactions upgrading the team via trade 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 8 (from DAL via PHX) 
  • Outgoing: Round 1 Pick 7 (to DAL), Round 2 Pick 7 (to IND), Round 3 Pick 7 (to IND) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Parker at $190,000 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Vandersloot, Copper, DeShields, Stevens, Ruthy Hebard, Gabby Williams, Stephanie Mavunga, Stefanie Dolson, Allie Quigley
  • The No. 8 overall pick 
  • Start the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $2,000 in room 
  • 2021 Chicago free agents not mentioned already: Alexis Prince (RP), Kiah Gillespie (UFA—waived 1/7) 

Best case

Re-sign Parker, find a steal at No. 8, and DeShields and Stevens find a new level in 2021 

Worst case

Parker walks, Chicago can’t land a starting-caliber replacement 

Listen: Sky season in review, offseason preview with Eric Nemchock

Washington Mystics

2020 finish

9-13 (No. 8 seed), defeated in round one by Phoenix 

State of the Mystics 

Hoping to defend their 2019 title 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Emma Meesseman, Tina Charles, Aerial Powers (UFAs) and Natasha Cloud (Suspended – Contract Expired) 
  • Do what you can with the space that’s left 

Team building blocks

Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Myisha Hines-Allen, plus Powers, Cloud, Charles and Meesseman (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Running it back 
  • Some hometown discounts? 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • See “Team needs” 

This situation is far more complicated than L.A.’s on the surface. Meesseman has to get paid, right? So does Cloud as the starting point guard. What about Powers? Is she the starting wing next to Atkins? Or will they start games with three bigs in the lineup? What does that mean for Charles? Oh, and good luck with the rest of it even if we’re just playing with numbers on a sheet. Pay those four $175,000 apiece and you still can’t fill out the roster. It’s not like you’d ever waive Hines-Allen or Atkins, and Leilani Mitchell’s salary is protected. 

How many of these players will expect a max salary? Would they consider trading Mitchell? Then if one of those four players walks or leaves via a sign-and-trade, they’d have enough to pay the other three the upper max if they really wanted to take care of each one. Some kind of middle ground might be more appropriate to keep Mitchell around. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Needing someone to take a discount 
  • Having limited options to play more traditional lineups if Powers walks 

2021 draft capital

  • None
  • Outgoing: Round 1 Pick 5 (to DAL via NY), Round 2 Pick 5 (to NY), Round 3 Pick 5 (to NY) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Meesseman, Charles, Cloud and Powers at $180,000 each 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Delle Donne, Atkins, Hines-Allen, Kiara Leslie 
  • Re-sign Stella Johnson at the rookie minimum 
  • Re-sign LaToya Sanders (Suspended – Contract Expired) or Tianna Hawkins (UFA) at the veteran’s minimum 
  • Trade Mitchell 
  • Sign a point guard at the rookie minimum—possibly Sug Sutton (RP)—or acquire and use a 2021 second rounder 
  • Starting the season with 11 of 12 spots filled, less than $9,000 in room 
  • 2021 Washington free agents not mentioned already: Jacki Gemelos (RP), Alaina Coates (RP), Lee-Seul Kang (Suspended – Contract Expired) 

Best case

Somehow re-signing Powers, Cloud, Charles and Meesseman

Worst case

Powers walks and the on-court fit with Charles doesn’t quite pan out 

Note: The Mystics announced the re-signing of Gemelos, Johnson and Sutton to training camp contracts on January 8. 

Dallas Wings

2020 finish

8-14 (9th), missed playoffs 

State of the Wings

Building, close to making their first playoff push 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Allisha Gray’s restricted free agency 
  • Determining what to do with their trio of first-round picks 

Team building blocks

Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally, Tyasha Harris, Bella Alarie, Marina Mabrey, Gray (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Best available young talent 
  • Patience 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • High-upside talent in the draft 

We’ve exhausted some of the most notable free agent targets already. Take the meeting if you can get one with a great player. But relatively speaking, the Wings have more young players they should want to develop than, say, Indiana or Atlanta. Dallas already has two young stars in Ogunbowale and Sabally. Land another in the draft? Then you’re really in business. Re-signing Gray already brings the roster count to 12 before factoring in the first-round picks. Things really get interesting if the Wings get some appealing offers for some of them. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Moving on from somebody. Dallas has three veterans on protected contracts for two more years apiece, but younger players would be easier to waive.
  • What’s the plan for the forward rotation? Are there enough minutes to go around for Katie Lou Samuelson and Kayla Thornton behind Gray and Sabally? 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 2 
  • Round 1 Pick 5 (from WAS via NYL) 
  • Round 1 Pick 7 (via CHI) 
  • Round 2 Pick 1 (via NYL) 
  • Round 2 Pick 4 
  • Outgoing: Round 3 Pick 4 (to LAS) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Gray at $175,000 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Thornton, Sabally, Alarie, Harris, Samuelson, Ogunbowale, Mabrey, Astou Ndour, Moriah Jefferson, Isabelle Harrison, Megan Gustafson 
  • The No. 2 overall pick
  • The No. 5 overall pick 
  • The No. 7 overall pick 
  • 15 players, need to waive 3 or make some trades 
  • Cap room very unlikely to become an issue, can open up room to sign multiple free agents 

Best case

Re-sign Gray, a path to acquire a star that fits with their most important young players appears 

Worst case

Gray sees greener pastures elsewhere, the trade market is quiet, and Dallas can’t find a favorable way to package players and/or picks in some deals 

Atlanta Dream

2020 finish

7-15 (10th), missed playoffs 

State of the Dream 

Too talented to bottom out, hopeful for a playoff return 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Re-sign Betnijah Laney (UFA) 
  • Add some reliable shooting up front 

Team building blocks

Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, Tiffany Hayes, Laney (if re-signed) 

Team needs

  • Stretch big(s) 
  • Possibly another backup point guard 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Natasha Howard (UFA) 
  • Cheyenne Parker (UFA) 
  • Tianna Hawkins (UFA) 

Howard isn’t a prolific 3-point shooter but would still make a huge difference. Would the fit be right for Parker on both ends to play next to Elizabeth Williams and Kalani Brown? Maybe not. But Parker’s offensive skill set would help them in a big way. Hawkins is more of a solid rotation player than a high-minutes starter. A perfect option might not come available. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Atlanta addressed the need via the draft and/or a trade instead. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Thinking beyond 2021 with five veterans set to hit free agency in 2022 
  • Finding time for 2020 signing Shekinna Stricklen with Carter, Hayes, Courtney Williams and Laney (if re-signed) factoring heavily into the perimeter rotation 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 3 
  • Round 2 Pick 3 
  • Round 3 Pick 3 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Re-sign Laney at $185,000 
  • Already under contract for 2021: Stricklen, Hayes, Carter, Brown, Monique Billings, Brittany Brewer, Maite Cazorla, Elizabeth Williams, Courtney Williams
  • The No. 3 overall pick 
  • 11 players with about $161,000 in room 
  • Not included: 2020 third-round picks Mikayla Pivec and Kobi Thornton 
  • 2021 Atlanta free agents not mentioned already: Glory Johnson (UFA), Renee Montgomery (Suspended – Contract Expired), Kaela Davis (RFA), Blake Dietrick (RFA), Jaylyn Agnew (RP) 

Best case

With a stretch big opening up the lane, the Carter-Hayes-Laney-Courtney Williams four-headed guard monster helps put Atlanta firmly in the playoff picture 

Worst case

Laney walks and the team struggles to make any kind of splash in free agency as a few 2020 lottery teams get noticeably better 

Note: Agnew will be rehabbing a torn ACL in 2021. 

See Also

Indiana Fever

2020 finish

6-16 (11th), missed playoffs 

State of the Fever 

Year five of a rebuild with possibly the worst long-term outlook of the four lottery teams 

Main offseason objectives

  • Make way to let the kids play 
  • Weigh all your options at No. 4 

Team building blocks

Kelsey Mitchell, Lauren Cox, Teaira McCowan 

Team needs

  • More shooting 
  • Frontcourt flexibility 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Chelsea Gray (UFA) 
  • Aerial Powers (UFA), Kayla McBride (UFA), Allisha Gray (RFA)
  • Any group of stars that wants to team up, look! Cap space! Two (or three) max slots! 

Basically the same as the Lynx list. All three wings would give them more reliable 3-point shooting at the 3, which would really open things up for Cox and McCowan. One problem, though: three of those four players can stay put and play for a likely title contender. And Gray is restricted and Dallas’ only free agent. Still, the Fever have plenty of money to throw around and a big role to offer at the small forward spot in particular. Up front, Indiana has plenty of options with their own free agents if they don’t get out in free agency. Flexibility in the form of a stretch 4 comes to mind so they would also have the option to get occasional looks at Cox at the 5 next season. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Another quiet free agency 
  • Possibly losing Erica Wheeler (UFA) and not having Julie Allemand come over in 2021 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 4 
  • Round 2 Pick 2 
  • Round 2 Pick 7 (via CHI) 
  • Round 3 Pick 2 
  • Round 3 Pick 7 (via CHI) 
  • Round 3 Pick 9 (via MIN) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline

  • Re-sign Wheeler at $175,000
  • Already under contract for 2021: Cox, McCowan, Allemand, Tiffany Mitchell, Kelsey Mitchell, Kathleen Doyle, Victoria Vivians, Kennedy Burke 
  • The No. 4 overall pick
  • The No. 14 overall pick 
  • 11 players with about $448,000 in room 
  • 2021 Indiana free agents not mentioned already: Candice Dupree (UFA), Jantel Lavender (UFA), Natalie Achonwa (UFA), Bernadett Hatar (Suspended – Contract Expired), Kamiah Smalls (FA status unknown) 

Best case

They hit a homerun at No. 4 and are the surprise team of free agency with more than enough room to sign multiple players to big contracts, then emerge as a clear-cut playoff team 

Worst case

No big additions, uncertainty at point guard, and fewer options at No. 4 with no early entrants declaring and a few notable seniors returning to school 

New York Liberty

2020 finish

2-20 (12th), missed playoffs 

State of the Liberty 

Very early stages of a total reset 

Main offseason objectives 

  • Making the right pick at No. 1 
  • Prioritize and make room for the young players you believe in most, including the ones you can select in this draft
  • Consider any possibility via free agency or trade to add a true difference-maker in the frontcourt 

Team building blocks

Sabrina Ionescu, Marine Johannès, Kia Nurse, Asia Durr 

Team needs

  • An established or young-with-high-upside player at the 4 or the 5 
  • A full season to see how the young wings/forwards look with the full guard rotation healthy and available 

WNBA free agency “dream” targets

  • Natasha Howard (UFA)
  • Nneka Ogwumike (UFA)
  • Cheyenne Parker (UFA) 

Does New York really have a chance at a player of that caliber? Who knows! Every player is different. Are they a Finals favorite with one big addition? Probably not. But the Liberty can sell a fun style of play, a big contract, and a big role in a big market. Maybe a player will see the other side of the coin: opportunity to be one of the biggest reasons why one of the league’s original franchises gets back into contention. 

Biggest potential challenges or obstacles 

  • Trimming the roster down to 12 after a less-than-ideal look at the rookies without some of their best players available in 2020 
  • Exploring the trade market for “smaller” deals. Would the Liberty have much interest in mid-to-late first rounders? Would trade chips like that even be available? 

2021 draft capital

  • Round 1 Pick 1 
  • Round 2 Pick 5 (via WAS)
  • Round 3 Pick 1
  • Round 3 Pick 5 (via WAS) 
  • Outgoing: Round 2 Pick 1 (to DAL) 

One proposed 2021 roster outline 

  • Already under contract for 2021: Ionescu, Durr, Nurse, Johannès, Layshia Clarendon, Kiah Stokes, Jocelyn Willoughby, Megan Walker, Jazmine Jones, Leaonna Odom, Kylee Shook, Han Xu
  • The No. 1 overall pick 
  • 13 players with about $398,000 in space
  • Still about $176,000 in space if they added a new player at the upper max 
  • Space could also be used to re-sign free agents Amanda Zahui B. (UFA), Rebecca Allen (Suspended – Contract Expired), Stephanie Talbot (Suspended – Contract Expired), Joyner Holmes (RP), and/or Paris Kea (RP) 

Best case

A big name joins them in free agency and several choice early-entrant candidates enter the draft, creating a deeper talent pool at the top of the class 

Worst case

No big signings or trades, Johannès doesn’t come over at all in 2021, and no early entrants declare for the draft 

Note: The Liberty announced that Kea underwent ACL reconstruction surgery on January 6. 

Listen: Liberty season in review, offseason preview with Erica L. Ayala and Jackie Powell

2021 WNBA Free Agency Rankings

Note that this piece is just an offseason preview. Out later this week, bookmark our offseason tracker to keep up with all of the moves. We will also continually update a list there with the best available free agents. Of course, every player isn’t limited to just one position. Plenty of them could easily get minutes at multiple positions. 

Key: UFA (unrestricted free agent), RFA (restricted free agent), SUSP (Suspended – Contract Expired), RP (reserved player), S (already re-signed prior to Jan. 15), INJ (injured).

Note: Updated on Jan. 15 after the release of the official free agent list for all transactions announced before Jan. 15. Bookmark our free agency tracker to keep up with updates throughout the offseason. 

Free agent center rankings

Tier one

  • Liz Cambage (cored by Las Vegas)
  • Natasha Howard (cored by Seattle)
  • Candace Parker (UFA)

Tier two

  • Tina Charles (UFA)
  • Cheyenne Parker (UFA)

Tier three

  • Chiney Ogwumike (SUSP)
  • Kia Vaughn (UFA)
  • LaToya Sanders (SUSP)
  • Glory Johnson (UFA)

Tier four

  • Temi Fagbenle (RP)
  • Brionna Jones (RFA)
  • Natalie Achonwa (UFA)
  • Amanda Zahui B. (UFA)
  • Beatrice Mompremier (RP — S)
  • Erica McCall (RFA)

Tier five

  • Bernadett Hatar (SUSP)
  • Carolyn Swords (UFA)
  • Kayla Alexander (UFA)
  • Angel Robinson (RP)
  • Alaina Coates (UFA)
  • Theresa Plaisance (UFA)
  • Avery Warley-Talbert (UFA)

Free agent power forward rankings

Tier one

  • Nneka Ogwumike (cored by Los Angeles)
  • Alyssa Thomas (UFA)
  • Emma Meesseman (UFA)

Tier two

  • Tianna Hawkins (UFA)

Tier three

  • Emma Cannon (RP — S)
  • Jessica Breland (UFA)
  • Candice Dupree (UFA)
  • Jantel Lavender (UFA)
  • Megan Huff (UFA)

Tier four

  • Joyner Holmes (RP)
  • Raisa Musina (UFA)
  • Sara Blicavs (UFA)
  • Kiah Gillespie (UFA)
  • Morgan Bertsch (UFA)
  • Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (RP)
  • Reshanda Gray (UFA)

Free agent small forward rankings

Tier one

  • Betnijah Laney (UFA)
  • Alysha Clark (UFA)
  • Brittney Sykes (RFA)

Tier two

  • Bridget Carleton (RP — S)
  • Rebecca Allen (SUSP)
  • Shenise Johnson (UFA)
  • Bria Holmes (UFA)
  • Essence Carson (UFA)
  • Stephanie Talbot (SUSP)

Tier three

  • Karima Christmas-Kelly (UFA — INJ)
  • Seimone Augustus (UFA)
  • Kaela Davis (RFA)
  • Nia Coffey (RFA)

Tier four

  • Alexis Prince (RP)
  • Valériane Ayayi Vukosavljevic (UFA)
  • Jazmon Gwathmey (UFA)
  • Lauren Manis (UFA)
  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (UFA)
  • Karlie Samuelson (UFA)
  • Cierra Burdick (UFA)
  • Alisia Jenkins (UFA)
  • Rebecca Greenwell (UFA)

Free agent shooting guard rankings

Tier one

  • Diana Taurasi (UFA)
  • Aerial Powers (UFA)
  • Kayla McBride (UFA)
  • Allisha Gray (RFA)

Tier two

  • Sami Whitcomb (RFA)
  • Cecilia Zandalasini (SUSP)
  • Riquna Williams (UFA)

Tier three

  • Yvonne Turner (SUSP)
  • Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (RFA)
  • Kamiah Smalls (UFA)
  • Jaylyn Agnew (RP — INJ)
  • Stella Johnson (RP — S)
  • Epiphanny Prince (UFA)
  • Sugar Rodgers (UFA)
  • Tayler Hill (UFA)

Tier four

  • Jacki Gemelos (RP — S)
  • Blake Dietrick (RFA)
  • Elīna Babkina (UFA)
  • Haley Gorecki (UFA)
  • Juicy Landrum (UFA)
  • Alexis Jones (UFA)
  • Lee-Seul Kang (SUSP)
  • Erica Ogwumike (UFA)
  • Tynice Martin (UFA)

Free agent point guard rankings

Tier one

  • Chelsea Gray (UFA)
  • Natasha Cloud (SUSP)
  • Jasmine Thomas (UFA)
  • Sue Bird (UFA)

Tier two

  • Erica Wheeler (UFA)
  • Te’a Cooper (RP — S)
  • Danielle Robinson (UFA)
  • Renee Montgomery (SUSP)
  • Shey Peddy (RP — S)
  • Natisha Hiedeman (RP — S)

Tier three

  • Paris Kea (RP — INJ)
  • Sydney Colson (UFA)
  • Sug Sutton (RP — S)
  • Lindsay Allen (RP — S)
  • Olivia Époupa (UFA)
  • Jessica January (UFA)
  • Linnae Harper (UFA)
  • Japreece Dean (UFA)
  • Jamierra Faulkner (UFA)
  • Brittany Boyd (UFA)
  • Alex Bentley (UFA)

Written by Ben Dull (@Ben_Dull on Twitter). Read more of his work at Floor Game and subscribe today to the Floor Game podcast, part of the Winsidr podcast network.

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