February 1, 2023
Sparks make first free agency signings
Lexie Brown is back in the fold and Stephanie Talbot has arrived
The moratorium period for WNBA free agency has officially been lifted and the Los Angeles Sparks wasted no time in announcing a pair of signings. While some free agent agreements had been reported prior to Feb. 1, none had come from the Sparks. They did complete a pair of trades though, to bring in Jasmine Thomas and Dearica Hamby but the Sparks came to terms with a pair of guards in Lexie Brown and Stephanie Talbot.
In Brown’s case, she will be re-signing with the team where she had her best season in the WNBA. Before last season, Brown had bounced around the league with three other teams before arriving in Los Angeles. She was a training camp invite and had to make the team with a non-guaranteed contract and she did so after a solid camp. During the season, Brown was often times the Sparks’ only consistent three-point threat and she shot a career-high 39.8 percent from distance.
Brown played both guard positions last season and alternated from starting and coming off the bench. With a veteran point guard in Thomas in the fold, Brown will likely come off the bench regularly this season. She’s more than just a shooter; she showed the ability to put the ball on the floor at times and be able to create off the dribble. She’s also one of the Sparks’ better defensive players. In a forgettable season during which nothing seemed to go right, Brown was one of the team’s bright spots and it’s refreshing to see the organization rewarding her efforts.
If Brown was the only consistent three-point shooter for the Sparks last season, she won’t have to worry about that anymore. Talbot comes to town as one of the better long-range shooters in the league. Talbot was a player that made a ton of sense for the Sparks to target in free agency and they ended up doing just that.
Talbot has never averaged more than 5.7 points per game, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. With her three-point accuracy, defenses need to be aware of where she is on the court at all times. She can move well off the ball and the Sparks have players that will be able to get her the ball. She’s a career 37.6 percent three-point shooter and she’s only had one season out of her five in the WNBA where she’s shot under 38 percent from distance.
These recent moves, along with the aforementioned trades, puts the Sparks at seven players under contract in Thomas, Hamby, Brown, Talbot, Chennedy Carter, Katie Lou Samuelson and Rae Burrell. While not yet officially announced, both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike are expected to be back as well and they made that clear during the end-of-season exit interviews. That would leave the Sparks with a possible three open roster spots. They do have a first-round pick now via the Thomas trade and it wouldn’t be presumptuous to assume that whoever that rookie is would probably end up grabbing one of those roster spots.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances or earth-shattering news, it’s likely that this is the roster the Sparks will bring into the 2023 season. Anyone they bring to camp to perhaps battle it out for the final roster spots likely wouldn’t see much playing time anyways.
Written by David Mendez-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.