January 19, 2023 

Courtney Vandersloot to meet with Lynx; Many suitors for Azurá Stevens

The post-Fowles plan takes shape

The Courtney Vandersloot sweepstakes continue to grow. Multiple league sources tell The Next that Vandersloot will meet with the Minnesota Lynx once free agency begins on January 21.

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The move comes amid a Minnesota retooling following the retirement of Sylvia Fowles, and appropriately, the Lynx are after a big as well. Azurá Stevens is a prime target of the Lynx, according to multiple league sources, with the expectations that the versatile big will earn a max salary once negotiations are all said and done.

Vandersloot ranks third in WNBA history in assists, just ahead of Lindsay Whalen, and would serve as a legitimate heir to the standard Whalen set at the position during her near-decade stay with the Lynx. The extent to which such a move would change the balance of power in the WNBA could only be matched, among unrestricted free agents, by a change in teams by Breanna Stewart.

Stevens will be busy, with at least five suitors: Connecticut, Los Angeles, Chicago and Indiana are all in the mix for her services, with another league source telling The Next to expect Washington to get involved as well.

That’s half the league, if you’re keeping score at home. That kind of interest and bidding is where max salaries come from.

Vandersloot has had interest in joining Minnesota in the past, meeting with them last offseason, before Allie Quigley‘s decision to return for the 2022 season led her back to the Chicago Sky, her only WNBA team. With Quigley said to be in a different place on the question this offseason, a new destination for Vandersloot is under active consideration. Seattle and New York are also in the mix, though multiple league sources said not to rule out the Sky, either.

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Stevens, who turns 27 on Feb. 1, was an absolute luxury for Chicago last season, a starter-level player coming off the bench behind Candace Parker and Emma Meesseman. It is easy to envision her working well alongside Napheesa Collier in the Minnesota frontcourt, and not just because the two were teammates at Connecticut.

Stevens shot 36.2 percent from three last season on 3.3 attempts per game, while posting a block percentage of 3.9 — identical, incidentally, to Fowles’ 2022 mark. As critical for a team that finished tenth in turnover percentage last season, at 19.3 percent, Stevens took exceptionally good care of the basketball, posting a microscopic 7.2 turnover percentage.

Now, the Lynx are hoping she’ll do the same a little further north. But they aren’t the only ones.

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.


  1. Tim Daniels on January 20, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    I assume that the Lynx are in the market either for Vandersloot or for Stevens, and not for both. With more than $881,000 committed to just five players, the addition of two more max contracts would prevent them from signing the four additional players required to complete an eleven-player roster. Indeed, given the WNBA’s minimum salary requirements, I don’t think that they would have enough room under the cap to sign even two more players and to get to a roster of nine. Perhaps they have some plan to unload existing salaries—though I suspect that it will be hard to get someone to bite on Achonwa, give her production and the fact that she is likely to miss much of the season on maternity leave.

  2. Tim Daniels on January 20, 2023 at 8:49 pm

    The StarTribune had an update on Achonwa’s situation. Apparently, she was already pregnant while playing the last few games of the 2022 season and is expected to give birth sometime in late April. If she can duplicate Napheesa’s feat and get back on the court roughly 8 weeks after having her baby, that would mean that she could rejoin the team sometime around July 4th, or slightly before the midpoint of the 2023 season. Perhaps that makes her somewhat more tradeable than I at first thought, though I think that, at a minimum, we will probably have to give up the 12 pick in order to facilitate a trade. If we instead keep Natalie and trade someone else (possibly Powers) in order to create cap space for a high profile free agent signing, then depending on who the free agent is, we may need to re-sign Dantas, Milic, or someone else who can spell Shephard at center for the first part of the season.

  3. Tim Daniels on January 21, 2023 at 10:54 am

    That last post was very poorly written. After having her baby, Napheesa took exactly five days short of two months (i.e., 8 weeks) to return to the court for light workouts and to begin to get herself back into basketball shape. After that, it took her an additional two-and-a-half weeks (or 74 days total) to return to the lineup and to begin competing against the other athletes in the WNBA. Of course, it’s a fact that Napheesa was highly motivated to try to return early in order to have a chance to play with Sylvia during her final season. It is also true that players are different, and the fact that Collier was able to come back in this time frame is no guarantee that another player will be able to do the same. Still, for the sake of “guesstimating” a return date for Natalie, if we place her on a similar schedule, then that takes us out to about the Fourth of July holiday for Achonwa to return after her projected delivery date in late April. I’m not really sure what Reeve was talking about when, during her podcast, she said that she has two posts signed and that she plans on having two posts available for the season opener on May 19th. Based on Collier’s experience, it seems totally unrealistic to think that Natalie could be competing in the W a mere three or four weeks after giving birth.

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