Three words entered the minds of every WNBA fan when Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes broke the news that Breanna Stewart, two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP, met with the Liberty on Friday: what the heck!?
Stewart, the 27-year-old free agent who’s spent her entire career with the Storm, was expected to stay put after Sue Bird (via tampering lol) was announced to return for one final WNBA season. What’s going on here?
Let’s start with the idea that this meeting is simply a flex — which it could be! Stewart’s enjoying her first unrestricted free agency period where she can be courted by any team that wants her (all of them). It makes sense that Stewie would take a meeting in New York because that’s where she’s from.
Not every free agency pitch bears immediate fruit… but that doesn’t mean it’s for nothing. Think back to when Chelsea Gray met with the Aces in the summer of 2020, a year before she’d ultimately land there.
Stewart knows the Storm’s dynamic could change drastically after Bird (presumably) retires in 2022. Maybe she’s laying the groundwork for returning home next season.
It doesn’t seem likely, but maybe Stewart’s not as interested in running it back with Bird. With a baby at home, maybe things become simpler for her personal life near family. Or maybe, she simply thinks NY, equipped with Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu and former teammate Natasha Howard, is closer to winning a title than Seattle is.
There’s a million ways to spin what Stewart’s meeting is really about, but we won’t know anything for sure until Feb. 1. At least WNBA free agency is once again heating up offseason chatter and creating year-round league conversion it’s needed for so long.