A 22-2 fourth quarter run by the Connecticut Sun in Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals led to a 72-63 win over Courtney Vandersloot and the defending champion Chicago Sky, setting up a battle between the Sun and Las Vegas Aces for the WNBA title.
Now, after a surprise run to a championship in 2021 and an excellent 2022 season, the ultimate question remains: what does the future look like for Chicago?
After all, Candace Parker, Allie Quigley, and Vandersloot are each entering free agency. At age 36, it’s possible one or both of Parker or Quigley decide to call it a career, and there is no guarantee Vandersloot will return to Chicago despite playing her entire career with the Sky since they drafted her third overall in the 2011 WNBA draft.
Sloot still has a lot to continue playing for, namely the all-time assist record held by the recently retired Sue Bird. But if Quigley – Vandersloot’s wife – decides to call it a career, or they both decide to play elsewhere, could Sloot end up chasing Bird’s record in the same uniform she wore for two decades?
After all, the Storm not only lost Bird but backup point guard and Spokane native Briann January, who retired as well. If Seattle is in the market to add a pair of high level, veteran guards to their still highly-competitive roster, trying to convince Sloot and Quigley to relocate together makes a lot of sense.
Sloot grew up in nearby Kent, Washington, playing at Kentwood High School in Covington before heading east to join Kelly Graves and the Gonzaga Bulldogs in 2007. It wouldn’t be shocking for her to want to finish her WNBA career playing for her hometown team, and Seattle has the ability to bring Quigley – an outstanding player in her own right who played briefly for the Storm back in 2011 – along for the ride.
Of course, loyalty has been a driving force in Vandersloot’s decision to remain with Chicago for the best decade, and last year was the first time she even remotely considered signing elsewhere in free agency.
‘‘There was a good part of me that thought I wouldn’t be back last year, and here I am,’’ Vandersloot said during exit interviews. ‘‘The Sky have been loyal to me, and I have returned that favor.’’
Will the pull of her hometown team, and replacing a basketball icon, be enough to convince Sloot to come home? Hard to say, but retirement decisions for Parker and of course Quigley will play a huge role, and it’s possible this story will be a big one to watch in the coming months, even as Sloot gets prepared to play overseas in Hungary this winter.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.