Dearica Hamby claims Aces ‘unethical’ after trade to Sparks

Jan 21, 2023

Alexa PhilippouESPN

CloseCovers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer

Dearica Hamby was traded from the Las Vegas Aces to the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday, and then alleged that her former organization treated her in an “unprofessional and unethical way that … has been traumatizing” due to her pregnancy.

“Being traded is part of the business,” Hamby said in a statement posted on Instagram. “Being lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against is not.”

The Aces sent Hamby, a core member of their 2022 WNBA championship team, and a 2024 first-round pick to the Sparks in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick and the negotiating rights to forward Amanda Zahui B. The trade comes after Hamby — who had spent her entire career with the Las Vegas Aces/San Antonio Stars organization — signed a two-year contract extension with the Aces in June.

Hours after the trade was announced, Hamby made allegations against her former team in a statement posted on Instagram.

Hamby, who announced during the Aces victory parade that she was expecting her second child, said in the statement she planned to play the 2023 season and had expressed that to the Aces. Though she was working out with team staff during her pregnancy, she said she was told she was “‘not taking my workouts seriously'” and that Aces personnel told her they “‘[didn’t] see that'” she’d be ready to return.

“I have had my character and work ethic attacked,” Hamby’s statement read. “I was promised things to entice me to sign my contract extension that were not followed through on. I was accused of signing my extension knowingly pregnant. This is false. I was told that I was ‘a question mark’ and that it was said that I said I would ‘get pregnant again’ and there was a concern for my level of commitment to the team. I was told that ‘I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain’ (because ‘no one expected me to get pregnant in the next two years’).

“Did the team expect me to promise not to get pregnant in exchange for the contract extension? I was asked if I planned my pregnancy. When I responded, ‘no,’ I was then told that I ‘was not taking precautions to not get pregnant.’ I was being traded because ‘I wouldn’t be ready and we need bodies.'”

Hamby alleged her “honesty was met with coldness, disrespect, and disregard from members of management.”

“To be treated this way by an organization, BY WOMEN who are mothers, who have claimed to ‘be in these shoes,’ who preach family, chemistry and women’s empowerment is disappointing and leaves me sick to my stomach,” Hamby continued in her social media post. “We fought for provisions that would finally support and protect player parents. This cannot now be used against me.”

As part of the new CBA enacted in 2020, WNBA players receive their full salary while on maternity leave, as well as a childcare stipend. There is a maternity cap exception that allows teams to sign a replacement player at her applicable minimum if they don’t have cap room.

The WNBPA released a statement after Hamby’s post, without specifying who it was about, saying, “A member of our Union has raised serious concerns regarding the conduct of members of Las Vegas Aces’ management. We will review this matter and we will seek a comprehensive investigation to ensure that her rights under the collectively bargained provisions of the 2020 CBA, as well as her rights and protections under state and federal law, have not been violated.”

The Aces did not respond to a request for comment from ESPN. The WNBA said it did not have a comment at this time. But the WNBA players union said it will call for an investigation.

Meanwhile, Hamby, a two-time Sixth Player of the Year, expressed excitement about joining the Sparks, tweeting, “The best is yet to come! Looking forward to being in LA and can’t wait to get back on the court.”

“Adding Dearica to our roster plus a future first round pick was a solid move for us,” Sparks general manager Karen Bryant said in a statement. “We’re excited to have another key piece in place as we start free agency.”

The Sparks — who have a new head coach in Curt Miller and GM in Bryant — have made some big moves via trade already, bringing in veteran point guard Jasmine Thomas earlier this week from the Connecticut Sun.

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