WNBA free agent Candace Parker to sign with Las Vegas Aces

5:53 PM ET

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

Two-time WNBA champion and MVP Candace Parker plans to sign with the Las Vegas Aces as an unrestricted free agent, she announced Saturday on Instagram.

“As I’ve gone through free agency this time around, of course I’m thinking of where I can compete for my third championship, but the words home and family are what I kept coming back to … I need to be there for my daughter, for my son, for my wife,” Parker posted. “I can’t be without them for parts of the season when Lailaa is in school and I won’t miss her volleyball games or school dances simply because of distance. Lailaa starts high school in August and I need to be there for her, just as she’s been there for me.

“After evaluating the landscape together with my family, we’ve decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right organization for us at this point in our lives.”

Parker’s contract with the Aces will be for one year, her agent, Boris Lelchitski, told ESPN on Saturday. Her salary is still being negotiated.

The former longtime Los Angeles Sparks star spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown team, the Chicago Sky, helping to bring them their first title in 2021. As the No. 2 seed in the playoffs this past season, Chicago was upset by the Connecticut Sun in a winner-take-all Game 5 on its home floor during the semifinal round.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Sky coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

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Parker will join a core of two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, first-team All-WNBA member Kelsey Plum and Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, who are all fresh off a WNBA title, the franchise’s first, this past season. While fellow free agents Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot have yet to announce their decisions, Parker joining the Aces makes Las Vegas, for now, the undisputed favorite to win it all again in 2023.

A source told ESPN there was mutual interest in a reunion between Parker and the Sparks, but she instead chose the defending champion Aces, with help from Wilson recruiting her. Parker is also close friends with Gray, her former teammate in Los Angeles.

“Cue the song reunited**,” Gray tweeted after Parker’s announcement.

Wilson, on the other hand, was more at a loss for words.

“Snajajsodmfmdoskanexirmsnwkandickrlfowaknwziendoeke yea,” she tweeted.

Parker, 36, is widely considered one of the best to ever play the game as a two-time national champion with Tennessee, former No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick and seven-time All-Star, while also compiling 10 All-WNBA nods. In addition to winning MVP her rookie season — the only player to accomplish that feat — she took home the honor in 2013, and she was named Finals MVP in 2016.

Parker previously made waves in 2021 when she left the Sparks, the organization that drafted her in 2008, to sign with the Sky, citing the desire to play closer to where she grew up in Naperville, Illinois. After initially indicating she was mulling retirement following the 2022 season, her decision to sign with the Aces has a similar seismic effect on the WNBA landscape.

“When I made the decision to go to Chicago in 2021, I made the decision to go home and be with my family in the place where it all began. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker wrote. “I’m forever appreciative of everyone in Chicago — our fans, teammates, coaches, and ownership. But more than the past two seasons, I’m thankful to the city that raised me, the childhood friends I still have to this day, the teachers I still am learning from, and the moments in time that will forever be in my heart.

“While Chicago will always be my home, my family’s home is on the west coast.”

Free agents, including Parker, are allowed to sign contracts beginning Feb. 1.

Some expected a big free-agency move might be on the table for the Aces after they traded two-time All-Star Dearica Hamby earlier this week; Hamby has since accused the Aces of treating her in an “unprofessional and unethical way that … has been traumatizing” because of her pregnancy.

Las Vegas is hoping to become the first franchise to win back-to-back titles since the Sparks in 2001 and 2002. Parker would become the first WNBA player to win a title with three different franchises if she wins one with the Aces.

ESPN Senior Writer Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.

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