2020 WNBA Free Agency: Kristi Toliver to Sparks Headlines Top Contract Signings

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10:  Kristi Toliver #20 of the Washington Mystics handles the ball against the Connecticut Sun in Game 5 of the 2019 WNBA Finals at St Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena on October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The typically staid WNBA offseason came to life with the start of free agency. Teams were allowed to begin contract negotiations Jan. 28 and began officially announcing deals Monday.

The league's landscape potentially shifted with Kristi Toliver's return to the Los Angeles Sparks. After helping the Washington Mystics win their first-ever WNBA championship, Toliver rejoined the Sparks, where she played from 2010 to 2016.

Los Angeles Sparks @LA_Sparks

We have a lot to 𝙎𝙈𝙄𝙇𝙀 about today🤩 📰 » https://t.co/9n0WNy6m0y #GoSparks #LeadTheCharge https://t.co/dpNtTZUllj

Toliver averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 36.0 percent from three-point range in 2019.

The Sparks already have three-time All-Star Chelsea Gray but needed to add a proven playmaker. Los Angeles finished eighth in assist rate (60.7 percent) last season.

By adding Toliver, the Sparks also weakened a rival for the title in 2020. Toliver, Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman all hit free agency this offseason, so the reigning champions were going to have a hard time keeping their squad together.

Head coach and general manager Mike Thibault will now have to find somebody who can help Washington successfully defend its WNBA crown.

Unlike with Toliver, everyone knew Angel McCoughtry was going to have a new home this winter. The Atlanta Dream announced in January that they weren't going to use the core designation, allowing McCoughtry to become an unrestricted free agent.

The 33-year-old is headed to Sin City to play for the Las Vegas Aces.

Las Vegas Aces @LVAces

Welcome to Las Vegas, @Angel_35! https://t.co/b689cA8Hpb

The Aces finished 21-13 in 2019 and likely would have won even more if not for A'ja Wilson's ankle injury, which limited her to 26 games.

Between the continued improvement of Wilson and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young, Las Vegas was already trending upward. Now the team is adding the No. 16 scorer in league history.

However, the addition of McCoughtry may not get the Aces over the top in their quest for a ring.

They were eighth in effective field-goal percentage (46.6) and sixth in true shooting percentage (51.6), so McCoughtry, a career 28.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc, may not help their efficiency. Her arrival also makes an already top-heavy roster even more so.

It will be tricky for head coach Bill Laimbeer to get his top stars enough touches on a nightly basis.

The Connecticut Sun found themselves in the same position as the Mystics, as a number of their key contributors were coming off the books following a run to the Finals.

The Sun nailed down their top priority when they re-signed Jonquel Jones.

Connecticut Sun @ConnecticutSun

SHE'S BACK, @jus242. https://t.co/8VLeegf7Gn

Jones averaged 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds to earn her second All-Star nod. She was also second in the league in win shares (5.6), per Basketball Reference.

However, Connecticut has to replace Morgan Tuck and Layshia Clarendon after they signed with the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty, respectively.

Seattle Storm @seattlestorm

🚨 𝐎𝐅𝐅𝐈𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐋 🚨 Welcome to Seattle, @M_Tuck3 !!👊 Full Story ⬇️ https://t.co/zdAT2aT1fr #StrongerThanEver https://t.co/EtXn9bEvEo

New York Liberty @nyliberty

Libs fam, join us in welcoming @layshiac to New York! #BROOKLYNLOUD2020🗽 https://t.co/m7cblgWPFX

Re-signing Courtney Williams and Shekinna Stricklen would help the Sun remain in the thick of the playoff race for the upcoming season.

A few major dominoes have yet to fall. Liz Cambage is a restricted free agent, while Delle Donne, DeWanna Bonner, Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot are unrestricted free agents. The Dallas Wings also have to sort out the future of Skylar Diggins-Smith after she made it clear that she wants to leave.


Stats are courtesy of WNBA.com