Starting Five: Things to look out for as 2024 WNBA Free Agency commences

Photo Credit: Akiem Bailum

Firstly, we would be remiss if we did not recognize the great career that Jasmine Thomas had. 

Thomas recently announced her retirement. She spent the bulk of her playing days with the Connecticut Sun in addition to stints with the Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream and, most recently, the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Thomas is getting her post-playing days underway by landing a job with the Dallas Wings as Player Development Coach and Director of Player Programs. 

She was named an All-Star in 2017 when that year’s midseason festivities were in Seattle. Defensive accomplishments may not be as eye-catching as offensive feats, but she was a three-time All-Defensive First Team selection and a two-time All-Defensive Second Team honoree. 

Thomas was part of the core of many of those Sun teams – including the rendition in 2019 that made it to the WNBA Finals against the Mystics. Plenty of bouquets of flowers are certainly order for an outstanding career on the court and we are confident her next act will be even more amazing than her playing days!

This is the big one on everyone’s minds. 

Diggins-Smith’s tweets against the Phoenix Mercury last season all but ensured her days in orange and purple had come to a close. 

But what is next for her? Many on WNBA Twitter were hoping that the Indiana Fever would complete a trade that would send Diggins-Smith back to the Hoosier State – the same state where she played her college ball (Notre Dame). 

But that seemed more fantasy than reality. The difference is Diggins-Smith wants to be in a position to claim the one accomplishment that has eluded her throughout her career – a WNBA championship. 

While there are some who believe that the Chicago Sky could land Diggins-Smith, the Sun or Atlanta Dream appear to be safer bets in her quest for a ring. 

It was hard to envision Candace Parker wearing any other WNBA uniform than that of the Sparks. Then she won another championship with the Sky and another with the Las Vegas Aces. 

It may be hard to envision Nneka Ogwumike wearing any uniform other than that of the Sparks either, but that may be the case. 

If she were to leave Tinseltown, it would without question put the Sparks in full rebuild mode. Would the Seattle Storm really be a destination? One – it adds to their interior depth alongside defensive anchor Ezi Magbegor. Also – a Jewell Loyd and Nneka Ogwumike veteran core (not to mention who Seattle selects fourth in the draft) may be exactly what the Storm need to get back to playoff status.

Here is another interesting case. Delle Donne left the Sky to play for the Mystics and return closer to her native Delaware. 

Unlike Diggins-Smith, Delle Donne does not need to ring chase since she won one of those in 2019. Washington is a team that on paper ought to be in the tier of WNBA right below the Aces and Liberty but around where Connecticut is. The team’s biggest problem has been getting bit by the injury bug on a seemingly year-by-year basis. 

The Mystics did core Delle Donne – a one-year supermax offer. This gives Washington exclusive negotiating rights, but she still could ask for a trade. Khristina Williams’ sources have told her the Mercury are in on EDD talks. Kareem Copeland at The Washington Post says multiple teams are in on Delle Donne. EDD asks for that trade and we may have to start attaching “rebuild” to the Mystics’ future plans. 

Jones made no bones about it around the same time last year – she wanted to play for the New York Liberty. 

She played in two WNBA Finals with the Sun prior to last season only to come up short on both occasions. Jones was also the most consistent player for the Lib in last year’s Finals with the Aces and probably would have won MVP if the Liberty prevailed. 

Our guess is she will be back in seafoam, copper and black in 2024. She came too close to that elusive ring last season to take a step back potentially with a team that may not be contenders.

The struggles of last season for the Mercury at first made us believe that Griner would want to test the free agent waters. 

But BG is a unique case because her perspective on the game is different given what she went through in 2022. Also, she – similar to Ogwumike and Delle Donne – does not need to ring chase given she won a championship in 2014. 

Also with this year’s All-Star festivities likely being a celebration of her and Diana Taurasi’s careers, our guess is BG returns to Phoenix and becomes a mentor for whoever the Mercury draft to eventually follow in her footsteps.