Gabby Williams Traded to Sparks from Sky After Suspension by CHI

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2021

Chicago Sky forward Gabby Williams sets up a play during the first half of a WNBA basketball first round playoff game against the Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Sparks acquired Gabby Williams from the Chicago Sky for rookie point guard Stephanie Watts and the rights to 2020 draft pick Leonie Fiebich.

"We're excited to bring Gabby Williams into the LA Sparks organization," said head coach and general manager Derek Fisher. "At just 24 years old, Gabby is a versatile player who still has the potential to make a major impact in this league. She fits into what we’re building in Los Angeles and we look forward to the future with her in a Sparks uniform."

The moves comes three days after the Sky placed Williams on the full-season suspended list. She will remain under that designation following her trade to Los Angeles.

Williams' suspension became a source of drama, with the 2018 first-round pick posting cryptic messages on social media:

spooky g 👻 @gabbywilliams15


spooky g 👻 @gabbywilliams15

@alexbazzell 🥺🥺🥺

spooky g 👻 @gabbywilliams15

good morning ! https://t.co/aWIyZPEaoy

The Chicago Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile confirmed the Sky "weighed several trade options" involving Williams on the night of the 2021 WNBA draft. France also listed her on its squad for this year's Women's EuroBasket tournament in June.

Equipes de France de Basket @FRABasketball

💥 14 JOUEUSES RETENUES POUR PRÉPARER L'EURO 🏆 Valérie Garnier a dévoilé la liste du Groupe France qui débutera la prépa à Toulouse le 16 mai prochain 🤩 🇫🇷🇫🇷 RDV dans un mois pour retrouver les Bleues ! 🇫🇷🇫🇷 ➕ d'infos : https://t.co/a3OHHl1YWN #EDFBasket https://t.co/EedBKhwBth

That would've limited her availability for the Sky, who will carry only 11 players instead of hitting the 12-player maximum because of salary-cap restraints.

In a vacuum, parting ways with Williams was an understandable move. Suspending her for the season prior to finding a trade partner was bound to draw some scrutiny, though. 

Swooping in to land Williams for a relatively small return could prove to be a masterstroke for the Sparks.

Through her first three seasons, she's averaging 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals. The 5'11" forward thrived this year with Hungarian team Sopron Basket. She was named to the All-EuroLeague first team and took home the competition's Defensive Player of the Year award.

EuroLeague Women @EuroLeagueWomen

The Defensive Player of the Year award for @gabbywilliams15, alongside the All-#EuroLeagueWomen First Team selection! 👏 https://t.co/pV35aDgtTs

Between playing in the EuroLeague and the Hungarian championship, Williams shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, compared to 24.8 percent in the WNBA. If her strong shooting overseas can carry over in 2022, then Los Angeles might have struck gold.

Fisher will undoubtedly be paying close attention to the EuroBasket and potentially the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo if Williams represents France there as well.

The Sparks aren't rebuilding, with Kristi Toliver, Chiney Ogwumike and Nneka Ogwumike still on the roster. The departures of Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray may have shut the franchise's championship window for the time being nonetheless.

Perhaps Williams can be a part of the next Sparks squad that's knocking on the door of a fourth title.