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.
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.
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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.