May 10, 2021
What the Gabby Williams trade means for Los Angeles, Chicago
Sparks will have to wait for the versatile guard until 2022
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The Los Angeles Sparks pulled off a preseason trade over the weekend with the acquisition of fourth-year wing Gabby Williams from the Chicago Sky. Heading to Chicago in the deal is rookie Stephanie Watts, whom the Sparks selected in this year’s draft with the 10th overall pick, and the rights to Leonie Fiebich, whom the Sparks selected in the 2020 draft.
The Sparks will have to wait, however, until next season to see Williams out on the court. Prior to the trade, the Sky had placed Williams on the suspended list, preventing her from suiting up during the 2021 season.
Williams was committed to play for the French national team during the summer months and wouldn’t have been able to rejoin the Sky until the tail end of the WNBA season. While on the suspended list, the Sparks retain Williams’ rights while keeping an open roster spot.
The decision to suspend Williams was one that Sky head coach and general manager James Wade said was not a source of conflict.
However, a source familiar tells The Next that multiple Sky players were surprised not to see Williams in camp, and expected her to join the Sky following the Olympics.
Williams is a versatile player who can guard multiple positions. Last season she averaged 7.7 points per game and 4.0 rebounds while appearing in 22 games for the Sky.
While Williams won’t play this season, what the trade also does for the Sparks is clear up some of the competition for the last couple of roster spots. The team needs to cut down to the league maximum of 12 players before the end of the week and with Watts’ departure, they now have potentially four players in Nia Coffey and Bria Hartley, and rookies Arella Guirantes and Jasmine Walker, battling for the final two spots.
Coffey had a strong showing in the Sparks two preseason games against the Las Vegas Aces finishing with 20 points in the first game, and adding 11 points and five rebounds in the second. Walker had 23 points and nine rebounds in the second preseason game and showed off her ability to stretch the floor with her shooting.
Guirantes, who was a lottery-caliber talent, was unable to play in the preseason while waiting to clear the league’s health and safety protocols.
The Sparks will open the 2021 season at home May 14 against the Dallas Wings.
Written by David Yapkowitz
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.