February 1, 2024 

Skylar Diggins-Smith signing spells bright future for Seattle Storm

Seattle sign one of the league's best point guards with plenty of cap space to spare

The Seattle Storm kicked off WNBA free agency with a big swing as they answered their biggest offseason question by signing the best free agent point guard available in veteran Skylar Diggins-Smith.

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According to The Next’s Howard Megdal, Diggins-Smith’s contract is two years guaranteed paying $208,219 in 2024 and $214,466 in 2025.

Over her WNBA career, Diggins-Smith has averaged 16.7 points, 4.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. In each of her last five seasons played, and six times in her career, Diggins-Smith has finished in the top 10 league-wide in both scoring and assists. She is one of just three players in WNBA history to rank in the top 10 of both categories at least six times.

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In Seattle’s press release announcing the signing, Head Coach Noelle Quinn called the six-time all-star “one of the best point guards in the history of our game” who is “an ultimate competitor, elite playmaker, and excellent defender. Adding Skylar to our dynamic backcourt will immediately elevate our roster as we continue this next chapter of Storm basketball.”

“Joining the Seattle Storm is the ideal next step in my basketball journey. The organization’s dedication to its players and the progression of the league is commendable,” said Diggins-Smith in a press release. “I’m laser-focused for the upcoming season. Stepping onto the court alongside Jewell, benefiting from the leadership of Noelle Quinn, and feeling the energy of the Seattle Storm fans is a combination that I am confident will lead to success.”

What Diggins-Smith brings to the Storm

Quinn made it clear during 2023 end-of-season interviews that the team’s biggest need this offseason was a designated, and ideally proven, point guard.

The 2023 season saw Ivana Dojkić and Yvonne Turner play some point before both players’ minutes dwindled dramatically, and Dojkić eventually left. Young Australian Jade Melbourne played some off the bench, but it was largely point guard by committee for the Storm. Shooting guards Sami Whitcomb and Kia Nurse were also thrust into the unfamiliar role and it showed in the Storm’s offensive struggles.

Not only does Diggins-Smith bring nine years of WNBA-level point guard experience, but she also brings impressive scoring chops. Seattle desperately needed at least one more consistent scorer to take the load off of Jewell Loyd last season, and Diggins-Smith can do just that. The last season she played (2022, since she gave birth to her second child in 2023 and was then out on maternity leave), Diggins-Smith averaged 19.7 points per game, good for third in the league.

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Speaking of Loyd, Diggins-Smith will also be reuniting with her former Notre Dame teammate. She played her senior season with the freshman Loyd in 2012–13, when the Fighting Irish posted a 35–2 record on the season and reached the NCAA Tournament Semifinals.

After her time with Notre Dame, Diggins-Smith was the third overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft behind Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne, playing six seasons with the Tusla Shock, which moved to Dallas in 2016. In 2020, she was traded to the Phoenix Mercury, where she played three seasons, including posting her career-best numbers in 2022. She was a massive part of the Mercury’s run to the 2021 WNBA Championship.

Where do the Storm build from here?

There was a lot of confusion Wednesday when the Storm traded Kia Nurse and the No. 4 overall pick in the 2024 draft to the LA Sparks in exchange for only the Sparks’ 2026 first-round pick. That lottery pick was supposed to be the start of building a new, young Storm team. But the team has evidently decided to try for a much quicker rebuild.

Sending Nurse to LA took a massive $142,500 off the books in Seattle. This leaves them with a little over $560k in salary cap space to sign 4 or 5 more players, as well as an additional guaranteed contract spot (each team is allowed six total). Essentially, trading Nurse allowed the Storm to offer max deals to more free agents, with one now going to Diggins-Smith.

Diggins-Smith will immediately raise the level of play for the Storm. If they can manage another big free agency signing, Seattle are suddenly real contenders once again, rather than stuck in a long-term, uncertain rebuild.

The Storm still have the cap space for another such big signing and there are some big names publicly connected with the team. Nneka Ogwumike announced she would leave the Sparks after spending her entire career in LA and, according to her sister Chiney Ogwumike on ESPN, her decision is currently between Seattle, the Chicago Sky, and the New York Liberty.

A starting lineup featuring Diggins-Smith, Lloyd, Ogwumike, and Ezi Magbegor would be no easy feat for opposing teams to defend. Storm fans could be looking at a very dramatic turnaround after the disappointment of the 2023 season.

Written by Bella Munson

Bella has been a contributor for The Next since September 2023 and is the site's Seattle Storm beat reporter. She also writes for The Equalizer while completing her Journalism & Public Interest Communication degree at the University of Washington.

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