January 31, 2022
A day after losing Stefanie Dolson to New York, Chicago reloads its frontcourt
Copper is expected to re-sign, Meesseman and Bradford reportedly joining Chicago in 2022
After the Chicago Sky lost Stefanie Dolson to the New York Liberty, head coach/general manager James Wade didn’t waste anytime retooling his frontcourt. According to Annie Costabile of Chicago Sun-Times, 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman is joining forces with the reigning champions. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. And any deal can not be made official until Feb. 1 at midnight.
Meesseman, who last played for the Mystics in 2020, adds to an already loaded frontcourt that already features Candace Parker and Azurá Stevens. In his tenure with the Sky, Wade has favored bigs who can stretch the floor and run pick and roll next to all-star point guard Courtney Vandersloot. Meesseman has proven throughout her career she can do both. She is a career 37.6% three-point shooter and has averaged 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in her career.
The move comes only a few days after the Sky added Ann Wauters to Wade’s coaching staff. Meesseman and Wauters played on Belgium’s national team during the 2020 Olympics. Wauters’ recently told the Chicago Tribune it is “pretty awesome” she has had an impact on Belgium-born players in the WNBA (she mentioned both Meesseman and Indiana Fever point guard Julie Allemand). Wauters retired shortly after the Olympics and was going to take a break from basketball. However, Wade called to ask if she would join him on the sideline in 2022 before accepting the position.
Earlier in the day, Rachel Galligan at Just Women’s Sports reported Kahleah Copper will sign a multi-year deal with the Sky. Chicago extended the core qualifying offer to the 2021 all-star back on Jan. 12. The two sides had Costabile also reported the deal will be for two years. According to Her Hoops Stats ‘ contract database, this would make Copper the third Sky player signed through 2023. While Chicago is clearly in “win-now” mode, Copper gives the Sky more security past 2022 and solidifies herself as the future face of the franchise.
Chicago has also come to terms on a deal with former Atlanta Dream forward Crystal Bradford. Restricted free agent Diamond DeShields recently told Chicago Sun-Times she doesn’t expect to be back with the franchise that drafted her with the third overall pick in 2018. Given Copper’s ascension and only four players signed heading into free agency, it was unlikely a DeShields-Sky reunion was going to occur. The team went into free agency with limited cap space and couldn’t offer her the playing time she is seeking.
With DeShields likely headed elsewhere in restricted free agency, Bradford gives the team depth on the wing. She reportedly received a training camp contract. Since she has played less than three years, it will be worth $60,141. After being out of the WNBA for five seasons, Bradford was one of the best stories in the league last year. She averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals, playing 18.3 minutes per game.
Since their championship parade on Oct. 19, the message coming from Chicago has been about being back at Jay Pritzker Pavilion next year with another championship. Even after losing Dolson, they bring in two pieces who fit the mold of what Wade seeks in his frontcourt. If the Sky retain Vandersloot and three-time all-star Allie Quigley, they will enter the 2022 season as the clear favorites to win the WNBA Finals.