January 21 is the big day on the WNBA calendar as free agency officially commences.
Teams are now officially able to have conversations with players and it will not be long before the really big day occurs. That would be February 1st when players can sign on the dotted line with teams.
There are a number of high-profile free agents this free agency go-round – including former Los Angeles Sparks teammates Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, the latter of whom is still a Spark of course.
But, of course, the biggest (arguably) of big fishes happens to be Breanna Stewart. She has been linked to the New York Liberty ever since she had a meeting during last year’s free agent period with the team’s owners – Joe and Clara Wu Tsai.
Stewie apparently knows that free agent season has arrived – and is getting really fancy with her social media posts.
Notably most of her tweets lately have been retweets – but what she put on her Twitter on Jan. 16 was not a retweet.
This was the first one that had WNBA fans attempting to decode these emojis for any free agency clues as if it was Morse Code.
Trophy? Baby Bottle? Airplane? Home? Basketball? Wave? Equals? Leopard? Crocodile? Construction? Plug? Virgo? Paw Prints? Newspaper? Stewie…we need answers.
Instead of giving us answers, she only gave us…more questions…and more emojis.
A bit less emoji heavy than the first tweet, but still. A calendar with hot pepper? Was this her way of saying things are about to get spicy as we get closer to February 1st? Or…something else? Side note: The official account for Chili’s responded. Yeah…the WNBA is getting its comeup.
At this point, many a WNBA fan probably had their notifications turned on for the latest Stewart-filled tweet…when they heard their phones ping again, they saw this.
Alert? Tease? Juice? Ice? Thumbtack? Recycling? Checkered flag? Sushi? For all we know this could have been something about beginning her day with an ice cold juice drink then topping it off later with sushi for dinner.
Then, she put out a tweet that, this time, was not difficult for WNBA fans to decode.
As was eventually confirmed by multiple media outlets, Stewie’s free agency choices are now down to a mere four. Her incumbent team, the Seattle Storm, along with the Liberty, Washington Mystics and Minnesota Lynx.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN has learned that the meetings with these four teams will take place in Turkey. Stewart is currently playing overseas for the Fenerbahce Safiport as part of its Euroleague.
The WNBA now has its own version of “The Decision” and fans of four teams are hoping their team and city is where she will take her talents. In the meantime, keep those notifications on, WNBA family. At this point, Stewie has to announce her decision via tweet emoji as well, right?
Also…she is definitely getting asked about these emojis in her introductory press conference regardless of whose uniform she will wear in 2023 and beyond.
While she is still having fun with her emoji-heavy tweets, she also sent out another that raised many an eyebrow within the WNBA family.
To which the WNBPA’s official Twitter replied…
Chartering flights has been an issue for WNBA players for a while now. Howard Megdal, in a Sports Illustrated article, unveiled how the New York Liberty used chartered flights during the latter part of the 2021 season. Someone blew the whistle and Clara Wu and Joe Tsai and it resulted in a fine of $500,000 for the Liberty.
Other owners have claimed that it would be a competitive advantage for some teams to use charters – yet that stretch of games where the Lib were said to have used charters nearly cost New York a playoff berth that season.
Among WNBA players, the report was not seen as a scandal – it was seen as another sign of unnecessary WNBA heavy-handedness. If anything, the Liberty’s use of charters may have made players look more at Atlantic & Flatbush with more of a curious eye.
The question many are asking is this – does this make Stewart more likely to sign with the Liberty? Even if the team is unable to charter flights because of CBA bylaws, the ability of the Tsais to want to actually invest money into an improving seafoam, black and copper product may make more players want to play for New York.
Minnesota may be in the running since it is a possible landing destination for Courtney Vandersloot and reports are indicating that Sloot and Stewie want to play on the same team.
Yet many of these same airlines – such as American Airlines (Las Vegas Aces, Dallas Wings), United Airlines (Chicago Sky) and Alaska Airlines (Seattle Storm) have sponsorship deals with WNBA teams…