Superstar do-everything forward Candace Parker has inked a multi-year deal to remain with the Sparks, announced today.
"Candace is one of those players in the league that you want to build your team with," GM Penny Toler said in a release. "Candace is healthy and will be a critical piece for our Championship run this season. We have a loaded team and we expect to win now."
Health will indeed be a critical piece to the Sparks' success, particularly that of Parker. She has not played a full season since her rookie year, and has been hampered by injury in each of the last three seasons. Parker's numbers when she is in the game are outstanding. She shoots 50.8% from the field and has averaged 17.2 points and 9.5 rebounds a game in her career.
Parker has been playing in Russia this WNBA offseason and performing very well. During the 2011-12 Russian league season, Parker has posted 14.6 points on 56.9% 2-point shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists through 20 games thus far. Her team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, faces off in round 3 of the finals against Spartak on April 27. UMMC leads the series two games to none after taking the first two contests, 80-65 and 80-73.
The Sparks have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but have made some moves this offseason in hopes to return to postseason play. Along with Parker's new contract, LA acquired the first pick in the 2012 draft, Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford. Nicky Anosike was acquired from the Washington Mystics in February. To start the moves the team also made a strong coaching change and Carol Ross was announced as the new leader of the Sparks in January.
Parker is one of 12 players that was selected to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics. The US team will be looking to claim their fifth-straight Olympic title in London this summer. The Games will be played during a month-long WNBA hiatus mid-season.