Breanna Stewart won't be hitting free agency in 2021 after the 2018 WNBA MVP signed an extension with the Seattle Storm.
"Stewie is a special player, a competitor at the most elite level and that was evident, once again, as she worked relentlessly to return to the court," general manager Alisha Valavanis said in the team's press release. "The Storm franchise, the fans and the entire city are excited for Stewie’s return this season."
According to High Post Hoops' Howard Megdal, Stewart signed for two years at $185,000 annually. Much like for marquee stars in the NBA, taking a shorter deal will maximize her flexibility, both in terms of her next move and the team's spending power.
The two-time All-Star missed the 2019 season after suffering an Achilles rupture in the EuroLeague championship game. She returned to the court in Team USA's 79-64 exhibition victory over Connecticut on Jan. 27.
Stewart averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 2018. She was also eighth in three-point percentage (41.5), highlighting how deadly she was on the offensive end of the floor.
Stewart's future in Seattle wasn't in much doubt. The Storm were WNBA champions in 2018 and carry title ambitions in 2020 with both Stewart and Sue Bird coming back from injuries. The 25-year-old would've been a restricted free agent in 2021 as well, allowing Seattle to match any offer she received from another team.
Sorting out her contract now will help Valavanis get an early picture of the Storm's cap space for next offseason, when the team will likely have to make some difficult decisions. Bird, Alysha Clark, Natasha Howard, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Sami Whitcomb will be out of contract. Then, a year later, Jewell Loyd is coming off the books.
Even if the 39-year-old Bird retires, retaining all of those players is probably impossible.
Valavanis at least took care of her top priority by getting Stewart to sign on the bottom line.