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Breanna Stewart to Sign with Liberty After Winning 2 WNBA Titles with Seattle Storm

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 1, 2023

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 7: Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm runs on to the court before the game against the Las Vegas Aces on August 7, 2022 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/NBAE via Getty Images)
Lindsey Wasson/NBAE via Getty Images

WNBA star Breanna Stewart ended the drama Wednesday after announcing she's signing with the New York Liberty.

Breanna Stewart @breannastewart

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"I decided to go to New York because I want to continue to be great," she told ESPN's Malika Andrews of her choice. "And I want to go to the place where I can continue to help this league become better, to continue to raise the standard. And I feel like why not go to the biggest market in all of sports. And I'm really excited to go after their first championship."

Stewart played six seasons with the Seattle Storm, helping the team win two titles. She averaged 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 2022.

The 28-year-old is the second former MVP to join the Liberty this offseason after they acquired Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Breanna Stewart is signing with the Liberty<br><br>Stewie<br>Jonquel Jones<br>Sabrina Ionescu<br>Betnijah Laney<br><br>What a squad ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ—ฝ <a href="https://t.co/0kLSM8FQuA">pic.twitter.com/0kLSM8FQuA</a>

There have been dominant teams in the WNBA before.

The Houston Comets reeled off four straight championships with the trio of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. The Minnesota Lynx captured four titles in seven years with Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and later Sylvia Fowles.

But the WNBA might be embarking on a true superteam area, at least within the context of how star-studded squads in the NBA have been constructed.

The Liberty have added Stewart and Jones to a roster that already included Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney and Stefanie Dolson, and they might not be done. Courtney Vandersloot confirmed she isn't returning to the Chicago Sky, so she could follow Stewart to New York.

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

ESPN previously reported that Courtney Vandersloot's free agency could factor in Stewart's decision as well. Vandersloot, currently playing with Stewart on the Turkish team, Fenerbahรงe, is expected to announce her decision this week, sources said. <a href="https://t.co/sctYKZsYAz">https://t.co/sctYKZsYAz</a>

This comes as the defending champion Las Vegas Aces landed two-time MVP Candace Parker. Las Vegas could potentially run out a starting lineup of Parker, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, A'ja Wilson and Jackie Young.

The on-court battles between New York and Las Vegas during the regular season will be appointment viewing, and they could have a playoff series for the ages.

Stewart's departure from Seattle could have a major domino effect.

The Storm has just two players under contract, one of whom is Jewell Loyd. Even if they had re-signed Stewart and added Vandersloot, general manager Talisa Rhea would've had a tall task ahead to fill out the rest of the squad.

With its best player now gone, Seattle could pivot toward a full rebuild, at which point Loyd becomes a trade chip.

The 29-year-old is a four-time All-Star who has evolved to become a well-rounded two-way guard. She averaged 16.3 points and shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc in 2022.

The fact that she played alongside Stewart and was so effective makes Loyd a great fit for any team with an established star.

One thing is clear: Stewart's move to the Liberty shifts the balance of power in the WNBA.