February 22, 2024 

Brianna Turner and Diamond DeShields are excited to build with Chicago Sky

DeShields: 'I believe that the people there know who I am'

Since winning the WNBA championship in 2021, the Chicago Sky have experienced a few road bumps. Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, and Allie Quigley have all departed, and former head coach and general manager James Wade left the team in the middle of the 2023 season. However, following the hiring of WNBA legend and Hall of Famer Teresa Weatherspoon as the new head coach and announcing Jeff Pagliocca as the new general manager shortly after, it became clear that the team was headed towards a rebuild. 

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The Sky have made some pretty significant moves during the 2024 free agency period, including announcing Crystal Robinson as their assistant coach. They signed guard Diamond DeShields, who sat out last season due to injury, and acquired Michaela Onyenwere, Brianna Turner, the third pick for this years draft, a 2026 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick, and the rights to swap 2026 second-round picks from the Phoenix Mercury. In return, the Mercury received Kahleah Copper and Morgan Bertsch

Turner, a forward who was drafted by Phoenix in 2019, has spent the first five years of her professional career playing alongside Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. Before news broke of the trade, she said she received a call from her agent and instantly knew she was getting traded. “As soon as I answered, I was like, ‘where did I get traded to?’” she said during a Tuesday media avail.

The Notre Dame alum’s first question once hearing the news was “what city?” and once she found out it was Chicago, she was pretty excited as she spent her collegiate years outside of the city. Her new teammate, DeShields, isn’t a stranger to The Windy City either. She was drafted by the Sky as the third overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft and is returning to the court after a year away and is “really looking forward to getting back to work” and just wants to “play a basketball game.” 

So what else did we learn from the Chicago Sky this week?

Turner isn’t worried about entering another transitional period 

While getting moved to a new team is a first in her career, Turner says that the Sky’s transitional period isn’t a new experience for her.

“I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of transitions in my career lately,” Turner said. “I mean, obviously we had quite a few coaching changes in Phoenix the past couple years, so I think just adding another transition in there kind of suits me.”

As far as the morale of the new teammates and coaching staff, she thinks everyone will look at it as a fresh start. “I think it’s really going to be a learning process initially. Obviously, a lot of the team has changed from last year, but we’re pros, I think we’re gonna adapt well and get on with it quickly.” 

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Weatherspoon doesn’t want to use the word “rebuild” 

From accepting the job as head coach of the Sky to undergoing a transitional period with the team, Weatherspoon’s philosophy has remained the same. “My philosophies are not predicted upon whether you get the big free agents or you don’t, it’s predicted upon who’s on their roster,” she said. 

With the word “rebuild” being thrown around when discussing all of the recent transactions for Chicago, Weatherspoon says her language is a little different. “I’m not speaking rebuild. We’re speaking putting together the proper roster to go and compete and become what we say we’re going to become,” she said. 

In fact, she said the foundation of the team is already there. “The seed has been planted,” she said. “All we’re doing is fertilizing it with the right people putting together the right roster to go and compete and be the best team that we possibly can be every single night.”

DeShields says Sky welcomed her back with open arms 

Turner’s new teammate DeShields is just as excited to get back to playing in Chicago where she said she had “some of the best years of my career.” During her time with the team as a rookie she built relationships and bonds with people part of the organization who welcomed her back with open arms two years after she left the team. 

“After going through the things that I’ve been through the past few years, those are the type of people that I need to be around,” she said. “So I’m super fortunate to have left that type of impression on the organization to take what some might feel as a risk. But I believe that the people there know who I am. They know my character, they know my game, and understand that a healthy Diamond DeShields is good for any organization.”

She added that it doesn’t take her much to get excited about the upcoming season and new beginnings. “It doesn’t matter to me that the team is different. It doesn’t matter to me that the staff is different. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just really looking forward to a chance to hear that buzzer sound off and be a part of a rotation and play a basketball game.” 

After spending about 300 days rehabbing her knee, DeShields said that her time away from the game was the best thing for her and taking the year off gave her the opportunity to “address incorrect ailments or things that might have been holding me back,” she said. “I’m stronger than I’ve been. I’m healthier than I’ve been. I’m in a much better headspace than I’ve been.” 

Pagliocca is excited to have DeShields back on the squad because of her impact on the league as a rookie and because of her resiliency. “She’s been through so much, the surgeries, what she can do physically kind of pales in comparison to what she overcame,” he said Wednesday.

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Pagliocca says trading Copper was a difficult decision

“We were able to get quite a return for Kahleah Copper, obviously it was a difficult decision,” he said. “But the return we’ve gotten allowed us to secure two very good young players with skill sets that have already been successful in this league. Whether it’s all defensive team or rookie of the year.” 

The Sky have a few first round picks and a couple second round picks, which Pagliocca says they feel confident about. “We feel pretty good about the decisions that we made and you know, able to just rebuild the youth and the draft capital along the way,” he said. 

When discussing the new roster, Weatherspoon says that the players are “simple freakin’ amazing” and that “they have a skill set that’s unreal, that’s going to be unmatched.”

She adds that it’s something she’s excited for Sky fans to watch during the season. “This is a group that has been counted out. The group has been carried out and is no better place to be than to be counted out. And they have the right attitude, the right approach. And we’re looking forward to getting started.”

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Written by Sydney Wingfield

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