March 9, 2021
Astou Ndour back in Chicago on a one-year deal
Chicago continues to bolster its frontcourt
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Astou Ndour is officially back in blue for Chicago.
No, it’s not the 2020 offseason — although one could be forgiven for the déjà vu. Ndour officially signed a training camp contract with the Sky on Monday. Chicago waived forward Stephanie Mavunga the day before the signing, clearing room on the roster and in the frontcourt.
Ndour’s return comes a year after Chicago traded her to the Dallas Wings in exchange for the Phoenix Mercury’s 2021 first-round draft pick, which turned into the No. 8 pick. In 11 regular-season starts in 2019, Ndour averaged 10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. But the Sky needed to clear cap space to re-sign its core, including guard Kahleah Copper, and Ndour fell on the short end of what looked to be a Stefanie Dolson-Jantel Lavender-Cheyenne Parker rotation.
The trade turned out great for Chicago: Copper turned in career highs across the board the following season and buoyed an injury-plagued Sky roster in the Wubble. Unfortunately for the Wings, Ndour never made the same impact in Dallas that she did during her breakout stretch with the Sky. The Wings waived Ndour one year into her hefty three-year, $570,000-plus deal after the 25-year-old post averaged just 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.6 minutes of play.
Despite Ndour’s struggles last season, she should be a good addition to the Sky’s depth and another familiar face in the locker room.
“We feel like 2019 was a breakout year for her, and although she wasn’t able to be with us in 2020 because of different circumstances, her presence was always felt with us,” Sky head coach and general manager James Wade said in a press release.“It is the type of presence in our locker room and on the court that we sorely missed, so we’re happy to have her back in the Chicago Sky uniform, where we feel that she belongs.”
Ndour got paid big money in Dallas, but the pressure and expectations in Chicago will be much lower. Chicago already has a stout frontcourt of Candace Parker, Azurá Stevens, Stefanie Dolson, and Ruthy Hebard — Ndour will just need to provide veteran depth and a change of pace, similar to her past stints with the Sky. If she shows signs of the breakout player from 2019, that’s just a bonus for a Sky team looking to bring home a title.
For Ndour, Chicago is an opportunity to get back in her comfort zone and prove herself in a smaller role. She and Wade have a strong relationship, and there are still plenty of familiar faces in Chicago. She’ll be playing on the most talented team of her career, but there are definitely minutes to jockey for behind Stevens and Parker.
It’s another solid move for Wade, who continues to round out his team as a championship contender.