New coach, new general manager, new roster. The 2023 L.A. Sparks will be unrecognizable from the 2022 edition. Karen Bryant wasted no time making moves as she traded for Jasmine Thomas and Dearica Hamby, giving the Sparks talented players and a 2023 draft pick. Here are all the moves that have happened since then, what's left to do and what's to come.
The first Sparks free agent the organization made sure to bring back was Lexie Brown. The signing shows one of the things Curt Miller and the Sparks value: shooting. Brown was a 39.8 percent shooter from deep for L.A. last season and elite shooting is necessary in today's game.
The next move from L.A. was to bring in Stephanie Talbot, a sixth-year forward who has bounced around the league but has size and is also a sharpshooter in her own right, shooting 39 percent from deep in 2022 for the Seattle Storm.
"I am excited to sign with the Los Angeles Sparks for the next two years," Talbot said in a Sparks press release. "Talking to KB and Curt over the past week, I loved their vision for both myself and the team. I'm really looking forward to meeting my teammates and getting to work."
It's LAzurá now, with the Sparks signing free agent Azurá Stevens to the roster. Stevens has spent the last three seasons as a member of the Chicago Sky, with the previous two seasons as a key player coming off the bench. Her versatility and size are something the Sparks desperately needed last season. Stevens averaged 10.6 points in her 21.9 minutes of play in 2022; I'm curious if her role will increase in Los Angeles. I think she still has tremendous upside.
By the Numbers*
Total team salary: $1,023,335
Cap space: $397,165
There are still a few big questions left before this free agency period is done. For one, where are the Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike signings? There have been reports that Nneka will sign with the Sparks, but nothing from her or the team has confirmed this. Chiney has constantly expressed that she will play where her sister will, so if the rumors are true, that adds the two biggest pieces left in this 2023 puzzle.
WNBA insider Rachel Galligan has also tweeted out that the Sparks have signed Layshia Clarendon, which is not official yet but could be announced as soon as Monday.
Layshia Clarendon has signed with the Los Angeles Sparks, sources confirm to @Winsidr— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) February 5, 2023
Another issue lingering from last season is the Chennedy Carter situation. She was benched late in the season and there was much speculation about what issues occurred between her and interim head coach Fred Williams to cause these DNPs. With Williams gone, is that water under the bridge, or will the team be looking to move the talented guard? Miller was asked about Carter and gave a cryptic but less-than-glowing statement about this situation.
"She's currently under contract and a talented player. And, again, as the roster plays out, everyone will be able to understand what's long-term for us," Curt Miller said.
It's hard to imagine this upcoming season being worse than the past two and with these new additions and a new regime in the front office, the team is set up for success heading into the 2023 season.