January 28, 2023
How Candace Parker’s versatility will make the Las Vegas Aces even more dangerous
Parker will team up with A'ja Wilson to give the Aces a dominant frontcourt — and perhaps a superteam
The first major domino of WNBA free agency has fallen in favor of the Las Vegas Aces. Candace Parker announced on Saturday that she will sign with the Aces when players can sign contracts starting on Feb. 1. Parker is one of the stars of the WNBA and gives the Aces a superteam feel as they try to repeat as WNBA champions.
In a statement on Instagram, Parker said that her decision was largely based on family and her desire to be closer to them. She said she felt too far away from her 13-year-old daughter Lailaa, who starts high school this August, and wanted to be there for her entire immediate family.
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Parker will join the Aces for her 16th WNBA season after spending the past two seasons with the Chicago Sky and 13 before that with the Los Angeles Sparks. In her first year with the Sky, Chicago won the WNBA championship, the second of Parker’s career. Last season, the 6’4 forward/center averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting 46% from the field, 31% from 3-point range and 82% from the free throw line.
With this move, Parker will reunite with one of her former Sparks teammates in point guard Chelsea Gray, who won WNBA Finals MVP last season for the Aces. This move also gives the Aces a lineup of five players who have all made an All-Star appearance. The Aces had that last season, too, but traded away franchise stalwart Dearica Hamby on Jan. 21.
Trading away Hamby opened up the space for the Aces to sign Parker, but the trade wasn’t without controversy. After the trade, Hamby took to Instagram to say that the Aces had “bullied, manipulated and discriminated” against her. The Aces have yet to comment on Hamby’s allegations.
Parker will be able to officially sign with the Aces on Feb. 1. The most that Parker will be able to sign for is just over $180,000, which is below the WNBA’s maximum contract amount. The Aces would have to trade a veteran in order to offer Parker the maximum of $202,154. ESPN’s Alexa Philippou reported that Parker will sign a one-year deal with Las Vegas.
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Parker will be an excellent addition for the Aces. She is a perfect fit next to 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. Parker will allow Wilson at times to play her natural position of power forward rather than center, and she can also space the floor, allowing Wilson to attack the basket. Parker and Wilson should play together a lot with both being able to play the power forward and center positions. The Aces have three guards who can all handle the ball, and they now have two star posts who can interchange as well. Parker has played with some great bigs in her career such as Nneka Ogwumike in Los Angeles and Emma Meesseman in Chicago, so it should be easy for her to slot in next to Wilson.
Parker’s versatility will also be a huge asset for the Aces. She can play next to Wilson or without her, and both players will be able to rest more in 2023 as a result. Also, Parker’s passing ability will be very valuable for the Aces. She is coming off three straight seasons with at least four assists per game. The Aces will have so many weapons around Parker in players such as Wilson, Gray and guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, and Parker will be great at finding all her All-Star teammates.
Parker and Gray played together for five seasons in Los Angeles, winning a WNBA championship in 2016. Their best season together was in 2018, when both were All-Stars and Gray had her career high for scoring in a season. The Gray/Parker pick-and-roll was quite dangerous in Los Angeles, and Gray has only become a better passer since she came to Las Vegas.
Parker has been a longtime star in the WNBA, and she just joined the most star-studded team in the league. The WNBA hasn’t had a ton of super teams in its history, but by adding Parker, the Aces may have just become one.
Written by Matthew Walter
Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.