The first domino of the offseason has dropped for the Los Angeles Sparks.
Per a report from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Candace Parker is leaving the Sparks — the only team she has played for in her WNBA career since being drafted no. 1 overall by the franchise in 2008 — to play for the Chicago Sky in the 2021 season. Parker grew up in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago.
Terms of the deal have not been reported, and players aren’t allowed to officially sign with teams until Feb. 1, but this announcement, combined with a report from The Next Tuesday that Parker was in talks with the Sky, makes it pretty clear that Parker’s tenure in Los Angeles has come to an end. Parker is an unrestricted free agent, and it appears that she is signing into Chicago’s cap space, though the Sparks could still try to negotiate a sign-and-trade so that Parker can get the full supermax.
She leaves the Sparks having won two MVP awards, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, and Finals MVP in 2016, the lone championship for L.A. in her 13 seasons. The Sparks outwardly seemed confident that they would be able to retain Parker, a franchise icon, in free agency. However, a disappointing playoff exit for the second straight season was apparently too much to overcome. Parker joins an exciting core in Chicago that was seemingly one strong defensive forward away from being a true contender, and she can most definitely be that piece.
With Parker gone, it becomes increasingly likely that Gray could be on her way out as well. Recent reports from The Next paint the Las Vegas Aces as the point guard’s most likely suitor.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.