Storm announces new deals for Loyd, Russell

The four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm announced deals Tuesday with shooting guard Jewell Loyd and center Mercedes Russell in a busy first day of free-agent signings in the WNBA.

Loyd, the Storm’s first draft pick in 2015, and Russell were both part of the 2018 and 2020 championship teams. Loyd received the nuclear player designation in January, which more or less guaranteed her return.

Her Hoop Stats reported that Loyd’s deal is for two years at the super max salary, which is $228,094 in 2022 and $234,936 in 2023, and that Russell is signed for three years and a total of $480,000.

Loyd was Rookie of the Year in 2015 and was a member of the US team that won Olympic gold last summer. She has averaged 15.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists in her career. Russell, a second-round pick out of Tennessee in 2018, was drafted by New York but was released early during her rookie year and has been with Seattle ever since, averaging 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.

A source confirmed to ESPN on Monday that 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart would also be returning to the Storm on a one-year super-max deal. Veteran Sue Bird announced on social media in January that she would be returning for her 19th season in the WNBA.

The Phoenix Mercury announced they had re-signed shooting guard Sophie Cunningham, a key reserve on their WNBA Finals team last season. Her Hoop Stats reported that she received a one-year deal valued at $75,000. ESPN’s Holly Rowe reported Tuesday that the Mercury may also be adding 2012 MVP Tina Charles, who played last season with the Washington Mystics.

The Atlanta Dream announced it is bringing back shooting guard Tiffany Hayes for her 10th WNBA season, all with Atlanta, and bringing in forward Nia Coffey, who spent last season with the Sparks. Coffey previously played with Atlanta in 2019.

Other big signings announced Tuesday included 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun, 2017 MVP Sylvia Fowles from the Minnesota Lynx and Myisha Hines-Allen and Elizabeth Williams from the Washington Mystics.

Another free agent is center Liz Cambage, who spent 2019 and 2021 with Las Vegas but did not play in the WNBA in 2020. Cambage indicated on Twitter that she will not return to the Aces this season as she tweeted her displeasure with the salary the new Coach Becky Hammon is hosting and making travel arrangements with the WNBA.

Cambage’s tweet read: “ahhh yes the WNBA where a coach can get paid 4X the super max contract of the highest paid players. xd and they think I’ll spend another season upgrading my seat out of pocket on a flight to go to games.”

Player salaries and travel are negotiated through collective bargaining between the league and the union, while coaches’ salaries are not. Las Vegas lured Hammon, who played 16 seasons in the WNBA, from the Spurs in the NBA, where she has been an assistant for eight years.

Cambage was the second overall pick in the draft for Tulsa in 2011, but played there only that season and 2013. The Aussie didn’t return to the WNBA until 2018 with Dallas, which is where the Tulsa franchise relocated. She applied to be traded and went to Las Vegas in 2019.

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Storm announces new deals for Loyd, Russell