The Connecticut Sun opened the 2023 WNBA transaction season by announcing a new era of Sun basketball.
The organization followed up the offseason departure of longtime head coach Curt Miller and the subsequent hiring of new head coach Stephanie White by sending 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones to the New York Liberty. The Sun then allowed Jasmine Thomas to join Miller on the West Coast, trading the point guard to the Los Angeles Sparks.
In exchange for J. Jones and J. Thomas, Connecticut acquired Rebecca Allen, Ty Harris, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Jasmine Walker.
Relinquishing JJ to NYC also permitted the Sun to core unrestricted free agent Brionna Jones. The Sun and B. Jones have yet to officially agree to a new contract that should approach the max, if not the supermax. Possibly, the number B. Jones and the Sun agree to is dependent on Connecticut’s forthcoming roster reconstruction.
But what moves might Connecticut make?
Since the two big trades, things have been quiet in Uncasville. What the new era of Sun basketball will look like remains murky, with a few of signings providing only slight clarity about the Connecticut’s ultimate ambitions.
Connecticut has re-signed restricted free agent Natisha Hiedeman. Swaggy has been a developmental success story for the Sun, with the sprightly Marquette product emerging as one of the WNBA’s elite 3-point shooting threats. She, deservedly, earned a raise for her efforts, inking a two-year unprotected contract for $120,000 per season.
You might know her as NATHREESHA, but @NatishaHiedeman is getting it done all over the floor. pic.twitter.com/WjolcnyoZM— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) February 3, 2023
Otherwise, Connecticut only has signed two training camp contracts, bringing back Joyner Holmes and taking a flyer on Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan. The sixth pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Herbert-Harrigan was not in the W last season after spending the 2020 season with the Minnesota Lynx and playing one game for the Seattle Storm in 2021 before going on maternity leave.
Because Holmes and Herbert-Harrigan are on training camp deals, only Hiedeman’s contract counts against Connecticut’s cap space, meaning these moves leave the Sun with $357,355 in cap space. If the Sun reward B. Jones with a supermax contract of $234,936, the organization will have $122,419 in remaining cap space. If B. Jones signs a max contract of $202,154, that leaves the Sun with $155,201 to work with. In either scenario, Connecticut would have 10 players under contract, requiring them to sign at least one more player. The Sun could decide to add both Holmes and Herbert-Harrigan to the final roster, with both due $74,305.
If things were to play out this way, the 2023 Connecticut Sun roster would look like this:
- Guards: Ty Harris, Natisha Hiedeman, Nia Clouden
- Wings: DeWanna Bonner, Rebecca Allen, DiJonai Carrington, Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan
- Bigs: Brionna Jones, Alyssa Thomas, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Jasmine Walker, Joyner Holmes
That team, while possessing talent, would not be equipped to challenge the WNBA’s elite. Further roster rebalancing should be in order.
In particular, it seems the Sun should try to exchange some of their surplus of bigs for additional guards. Although Connecticut might be intrigued by the promise of Nelson-Ododa or Walker, it is hard to see them getting sufficient time to develop and thrive behind the starting frontcourt of A. Thomas and B. Jones. Likewise, it is understandable if the Sun think Harris could blossom into a top-notch starting point guard when empowered in ways she was not in Dallas. Yet, the best version of his roster likely includes a perimeter player with the proven ability to create offensively for herself and others.
In short, it will be surprising if Connecticut does not make another significant move or two.
*All salary numbers come from Her Hoop Stats.