January 6, 2023
2023 WNBA free agency preview: Las Vegas Aces
The reigning champs don't have a lot of cap space but their core is locked up
The calendar has turned to 2023 and that means a new WNBA season is right around the corner. However, before we get to a new season, we get to experience what some argue is more exciting than the actual season, free agency. Heading into free agency the reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces don’t have a lot of key players to re-sign. In fact, the Aces only have three free agents, so it may be a quiet offseason for the champs.
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The entire Aces starting five for the majority of the season last year is under contract for next season. Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, Dearica Hamby and Jackie Young all signed two-year contract extensions during the season last year. 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson will be on the second year of her two-year extension she signed last offseason. The core of the Aces championship will return to try and run it back once again in the Sin City.
With those five players under contract, the Aces have a limited amount of cap space. Right now, the Aces only have $138,804 in cap space heading into free agency. While they have two to three rosters spots open, their limited cap space will limit the kinds of players they can sign.
The biggest free agent the Aces have is Kiah Stokes. Stokes, who moved into the starting lineup very late in the season, signed with the Aces in the middle of the 2021 season. She then seemed to sign a deal with the Dream during last offseason but ultimately ended up returning to the Aces. While Stokes wasn’t a huge factor in the regular season, she had some big moments in the postseason. She had two games in the playoffs with double-digit rebounding efforts, including a huge nine point, 12 rebound effort in the Aces game three win against Seattle in the WNBA semifinals. The Aces already fought to bring her back once and don’t have a true five, so bringing her back seems plausible.
The other two free agents the Aces have this offseason are Theresa Plaisance and Sydney Colson. Both were on veteran minimum contracts last season. Plaisance had a bigger role at the beginning of the season when Stokes was still overseas but saw it diminish upon Stokes’ arrival. Colson was more of the emotional leader of the team than anything else. However, her locker room presence cannot be understated. The Aces have the space for two veteran minimum players, whether it’s these two is up in the air.
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For the Aces, their biggest need in free agency is quality depth. The Aces by the end of the season were running a seven-person rotation. The majority of their rotation is under the age of 30, so the Aces weren’t worried about their players acquiring too much tread on their tires. Going into 2023, the Aces could benefit from not having their star players playing 30+ minutes a game.
Adding some players at both the guard and forward positions who can contribute consistently off the bench would help the Aces a lot. Even adding two players who can contribute for 15-20 minutes a game would be a big help to the reigning champs. If the Aces add two consistent bench players, they should be in great shape to repeat as WNBA champs.
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.