Washington Mystics agree to extension with Ariel Atkins

Alexa Philippou, ESPNAug 15, 2023, 02:11 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

Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins has agreed to a multiyear contract extension with the team she has played her entire career with, the franchise announced Tuesday.

The deal is for two years, fully protected at $200,000 per year, a source told ESPN.

“We are excited that Ariel has committed herself to the long-term future of the Washington Mystics,” general manager Mike Thibault said in a statement. “She has been such an integral part of our success and is entering the prime of her career. Ariel has worked hard to improve every season and the respect she has in our locker room will allow her to take on an even bigger leadership role as we move forward.”

“I’m happy to have signed back with the Mystics,” Atkins added. “I’m excited for what’s to come in the future of this organization and my career in D.C.”

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In her six-year career with Washington, Atkins has averaged 13.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. The Mystics’ pick at No. 7 in 2018 was part of the core who led them to consecutive Finals appearances in 2018 and 2019 and a franchise-first championship in the latter season.

The 5-foot-10 guard has played only 19 games this summer and is out with an ankle sprain, but she is expected back shortly as the team eyes securing a postseason berth.

A former standout at Texas and a two-time All-Star, Atkins has earned nods on the All-Defensive Team each of her first five WNBA seasons, making her the only player in league history to accomplish that feat. She’s also been part of USA Basketball’s up-and-coming younger corps, winning gold with Team USA at the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 FIBA World Cup.

Atkins is the first major upcoming free agent Washington has managed to re-sign; two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Kristi Toliver and Tianna Hawkins will be free agents after the 2023 season. Brittney Sykes is the only other Mystics player signed through 2025.

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