January 15, 2021 

Sparks core Nneka Ogwumike

The move was a necessary one as the Sparks frontcourt would take a major hit if they were to lose Ogwumike

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The WNBA free agency period is set to begin in a couple of weeks, but some teams have already made some key moves. Not only did the Los Angeles Sparks extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Brittney Sykes and re-sign reserved free agent Te’a Cooper, but on Thursday afternoon they confirmed that they designed Nneka Ogwumike as their core free agent.

Ogwumike was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the Sparks organization has made it clear that they would like her back in the fold. Coring her essentially guarantees that she will be in a Sparks uniform this upcoming season.

By designating Ogwumike as a core free agent, the Sparks have guaranteed themselves exclusive negotiating rights with her once the free-agent negotiating period gets underway. She’s automatically able to sign a one-year, supermax contract with the Sparks, but the length and terms of the deal can be negotiated to something different. Should the Sparks and Ogwumike iron out a longer deal, she would remain the Sparks cored player for the duration of that contract.

The move was a necessary one as the Sparks frontcourt would take a major hit if they were to lose Ogwumike. She’s a very talented low post player with range out to the three-point line and she’s one of the team’s best rebounders and interior defenders.

Her overall numbers were down this past season (13.3 points per game and 4.8 rebounds), and she didn’t make the All-Star team for the first time since 2016, but she was still one of the team’s most important players. Her absence was felt in the Sparks playoff loss to the Connecticut Sun.

With Ogwumike’s contract situation pretty much resolved, the Sparks will now turn their attention to re-signing Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray when the league’s free agency period begins. The trio is one of the top cores in the WNBA and it is imperative for the Sparks to bring them back to remain among the league’s elite and a championship hopeful.

David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.

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