Sky trades Kahleah Copper to Mercury for WNBA draft picks, players

Alexa Philippou, ESPNFeb 6, 2024, 12:26 PM ET

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

A seismic trade shook up the WNBA on Tuesday morning with the Chicago Sky sending Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for four draft picks, including the No. 3 overall pick in 2024, and two players — Brianna Turner and Michaela Onyenwere.

The Sky will also receive the Mercury’s 2026 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick and rights to a 2026 second-round pick swap with Phoenix. The Mercury also gets forward Morgan Bertsch in the deal.

“I came to Chicago with a hunger and a desire to learn, make an impact in the community, and be great on the court,” Copper posted to Instagram. “7 years later I can honestly say, Chicago, I love y’all. We went through ups and downs together; we battled together; WE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP TOGETHER; and most importantly we supported one another.

“Phoenix ahhhhhh I’m ready and #ALLIN! To my new teammates and coaches: you’re getting all of me. My hunger, my desire, my competitive spirit. Every. Damn. Possession. X-Factor, I can’t wait to be on your side and bring another championship back to The Valley. Let’s get it!”

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Copper, the 2021 WNBA Finals MVP, was the sole remaining core member of the Sky’s title run just three years ago, with her departure marking the entrance into a new era for Chicago, which just brought in new leadership in Teresa Weatherspoon as head coach and Jeff Pagliocca as general manager.

Phoenix, meanwhile, solidifies itself as a contender after an aggressive offseason. They’ve signed or traded for Rebecca Allen, Natasha Cloud and now Copper to surround Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and Sophie Cunningham.

The Mercury similarly have new leadership in Nate Tibbetts as head coach and Nick U’Ren as general manager.

Copper is coming off a career season with the Sky, averaging 18.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as Chicago eked into the playoffs with an 18-22 record. After starting the league in Washington in 2016, Copper went from being a reserve player for the Sky for several years to emerging as a top two-way wing in the league, helping propel Chicago to its first championship in 2021.

Things have been on the downswing for the Sky more recently, with Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, Azura Stevens and Emma Meesseman and now Copper all having left the franchise. Head coach/general manager James Wade also departed midseason last year to take an assistant coaching job in the NBA.

But most had thought Copper would simply be the face of this new-era Sky, especially after she had agreed to a two-year contract extension at the end of the regular season and appeared with Weatherspoon at her introductory news conference.

Prior to the Cooper trade, Chicago wasn’t able to build through the draft, as a trade last offseason that sent Marina Mabrey to the Sky resulted in Chicago trading away its 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2024 second-round and third-round picks and its 2025 second-round pick. In that transaction, Dallas also acquired the rights to swap 2025 first-round picks with Chicago.

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