May 18, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Las Vegas Aces investigation yields both answers and questions

Howard Megdal breaks down what we know, and don't, about the WNBA's investigations of the Aces

In today’s episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, host Howard Megdal spoke with Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon and discussed what he learned from numerous sources around the league. He takes a macro look at what we know, and don’t, about the WNBA’s investigation of the Aces. He also touches on what it means for Hammon, for Las Vegas, the league, the other teams and the WNBPA.

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The WNBA announced the Aces’ punishment related to both investigations Tuesday, about four months after Dearica Hamby’s trade to the Aces and three months after Howard reported the team was under investigation. Hammon was suspended for two games for what the league noted as “violating league and team Respect in the Workplace policies.”

On Wednesday morning Howard asked Hammon during a Zoom media availability if anything she said or did in conjunction with Hamby fell short of the standards the Aces uphold.

She responded in part by saying, “I don’t think they fell short. That’s not how I recall the conversation going. And there wasn’t one player complaint in the last six — previous six months. Nikki Fargas can attest to that, not one person in her office complaining. There’s not one point or statement that was reported to Nikki of anything but quite honestly compliments on how they liked me being their coach. So that’s who I am.”

The second investigation of the Aces resulted in Las Vegas having its 2025 first-round pick rescinded for what the league described as “violating league rules regarding impermissible benefits.”

Howard talked to multiple front-office figures around the WNBA and noted, “One said laughable, just as I expected. Another talked about the fact well, so this is what it costs to pay people under the table… And you just can’t help but think about if somebody goes to the Las Vegas Aces, as talented a roster as exists in this league, and said you can pay your players less officially and pay them more in other ways, and in exchange, you’re gonna have to give up a first-round draft pick in 2025.

It’s not a trade, they’d think twice about they’d do it in a second, anybody would in this league. So, that is striking. And what is equally striking is the extent to which even what the league put forward as punishment, which as I said if you ask anyone around the league was a win for the Aces. They did not accept it, take responsibility, anything.”

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