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Best of 2023: The WNBA’s year featured big free agency moves, long-anticipated expansion news

The construction of super teams and the expansion of the league were among the off-court headlines for the WNBA in 2023.

WNBA Announces Bay Area Expansion Team
The announcement of the WNBA’s expansion to San Franciscio—with WNBA Golden State—headlined the league’s off-court news in 2023.
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

2023 was a year full of WNBA happenings, both on and off the court. Here, we’ll focus on the off-court developments, from a league-shaking free agency period to another memorable draft night to long-awaited expansion news.

Free agency frenzy

New York Liberty Press Conference
The New York Liberty’s 2023 offseason additions: Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot.
Photo by Mike Lawrence/NBAE via Getty Images

Free agency ushered in the WNBA’s superteam era, with big, championship-chasing swings by the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty.

The defending-champion Aces added Candace Parker and Alysha Clark, while the Liberty aimed to build an insta-contender in Brooklyn through trading for Jonquel Jones and signing Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot. Those decisions left the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm to retool on the fly. In other moves, the Dallas Wings welcomed Natasha Howard, the Atlanta Dream acquired Allisha Gray and the Los Angeles Sparks looked to establish a refreshed identity under new head coach Curt Miller.

Draft night dreams

2023 WNBA Draft
The No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever: South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston.
Photo by Mike Lawrence/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite the ways in which roster-size limitations and salary cap constraints prevent many draft picks from fulfilling their W dreams, draft night remains one of the most anticipated nights on the league calendar.

2023 was no exception, beginning with the Indiana Fever selecting South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 pick. Regardless of whether or not teams made what we deemed to be the right decision, it’s always wonderful see collegiate stars hear their names called.

Now, excitement builds for the 2024 WNBA Draft, when the Fever will pick first for the second-straight year. The possible partnership between Boston and potential No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark promises to be one of 2024’s central stories.

Expansion news and blues

WNBA Announces Bay Area Expansion Team
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at the WNBA Golden State expansion event as ESPN’s Malika Andrews looks on.
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The WNBA, finally, announced that the league will expand, with WNBA Golden State set to join the W in 2025.

However, this long-anticipated expansion news came with additional expansion disappointment. Before WNBA Golden State officially was announced, reports emerged that the league was considering Denver as an expansion site. Yet, not Denver nor Toronto—which hosted a highly-successful exhibition game—emerged as the favored second city. With Portland on the precipice of an expansion announcement, the league reversed course, citing arena availability issues.

For now, only one team will debut in 2025, although it seems likely that 2024 will bring more expansion-related rumblings. Here, we’re still holding out hope for Toronto.