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UConn in the WNBA: Tina Charles joining Phoenix Mercury to create superteam

Tracking all the latest news and rumors about former UConn women’s basketball players during WNBA free agency.

Minnesota Lynx v Washington Mystics Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

WNBA free agency is underway. Teams could start speaking to players on Jan. 15 and contracts can officially be signed on Feb. 1. As always, there’s expected to be plenty of former UConn women’s basketball players in the news. We’ll keep track of all the rumored and official moves over the coming weeks right here.

Tina Charles signs with Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury are going all-in for a championship this season. On Friday, the team signed Charles to a one year, $108,000 contract, according to Rachel Galligan. Charles’ main goal is to win a championship and now that she’s heading to the desert, Phoenix has to be considered the favorite.

In addition to Charles, the Mercury also feature former UConn star Diana Taurasi along with Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner and Diamond DeShields.

Good luck, everyone.

Bria Hartley traded to Indiana

To clear salary cap room for Charles, Phoenix traded Hartley and a 2023 first round pick to the Indiana Fever in a three-team deal that sent DeShields to Phoenix, Julia Allemand to the Chicago Sky and Chicago’s first round pick in 2023 to Indiana.

Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams swapped

The Seattle Storm traded Samuelson and the No. 9 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks for Williams, according to Rachel Galligan.

Samuelson will get a chance to play for her hometown team — the fourth WNBA team she’s played for since the Chicago Sky took her No. 4 overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft — while Williams will join her Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird in Seattle. Williams never suited up for the Sparks. The Chicago Sky suspended her for the season in 2021 and then traded her to LA after Williams chose to focus on playing for France in the European championships and Olympics.

Now, Williams is waiting to see if she’ll actually join the Storm.

Breanna Stewart re-signs with Seattle

Stewart will return to the Seattle Storm on a one-year supermax deal worth $228,094, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. While Stewart has spent her entire WNBA career with the Storm after being taken No. 1 overall in 2016 draft, she reportedly met with the New York Liberty owners, front office and head coach in late January, per Haynes.

But with Sue Bird returning for one final season in 2022 — presumably with Seattle, though nothing is official yet — and Jewell Loyd signing a two-year deal with the Storm, according to Rachel Galligan, Stewart’s best bet for a third WNBA title this year is in Seattle.

She did not play in the Storm’s playoff loss to the Phoenix Mercury last year after getting injured late in the regular season and underwent minor surgery on her left Achilles in October. She tore her right Achilles while playing overseas in 2019 and missed the ensuing WNBA season.

Washington Mystics v Seattle Storm Photo by Josh Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Stefanie Dolson joins New York Liberty

After five seasons with the Chicago Sky, Dolson has signed a “multi-year deal” with the New York Liberty, according to The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings. The two-time All-Star is a native of Port Jervis, New York, located roughly 90 minutes outside New York City.

In 2021, Dolson helped the Sky to their first championship in 2021 and also captured an Olympic gold medal with USA 3x3 at the Tokyo Olympics. She will join a rising Liberty team that features a new head coach in Sandy Brondello along with stars Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Tiffany Hayes returns to Atlanta

Hayes will re-sign with the Atlanta Dream, according to the Associated Press. The Dream are the only WNBA team Hayes has ever known after they took her in the second round of the 2012 draft.

Last season was the best of her nine-year career as she started 19 of 21 games and averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game — the only player in the league to total at least 14 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Atlanta Dream v Connecticut Sun Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Other free agents/transactions

  • Kiah Stokes has yet to make a decision on her future. On Jan. 22, she reportedly agreed to sign with the Atlanta Dream but has backed out of those plans and will keep her options open, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  • Megan Walker is now a member of the Atlanta Dream after being claimed on waivers. The Phoenix Mercury decided to move on from Walker after just one season, meaning the 2020 first round pick will join her third team in as many years.