Sun send Jonquel Jones to Liberty in 3-team trade

ByAlexa Philippou ESPN logo
Monday, January 16, 2023

Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP, was traded from the Connecticut Sun to the New York Liberty in a three-team deal Monday.

Jones, a four-time All-Star, requested the trade specifically to New York; she had one more year on her contract with the Sun, who recently brought in a new head coach in Stephanie White after former coach Curt Miller departed for Los Angeles.

As part of the trade, Rebecca Allen and Natasha Howard were sent from New York to Connecticut and the Dallas Wings, respectively. The Wings also received the rights to Crystal Dangerfield of the Liberty and sent Kayla Thornton to New York as well asTyasha Harristo Connecticut.

The Sun also received New York's No. 6 pick in the 2023 WNBA draft.

"To say I'm excited would be a huge understatement!" Jones said in a statement from the Liberty. "To the fans, future teammates and everyone that has welcomed me to New York thank you! I can't wait to get this season going and show out in the Big Apple!!"

The Liberty -- one of the league's original franchises -- are a burgeoning championship contender with 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu leading the way. They also have historically tried to court two-time Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, who is a free agent this year.

New York has fallen in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons. The Liberty brought in WNBA champion coach Sandy Brondello ahead of the 2022 campaign.

"Adding Jonquel and Kayla to our roster in the prime of their careers was a can't-miss opportunity to bolster our frontcourt on both ends of the floor," Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. "JJ brings an established MVP skill set, and Kayla possesses a rare combination of defensive physicality and offensive spacing. We can't wait to welcome them to the Liberty family and get to work on pursuing our championship goals."

Jones, a 6-foot-6 forward/center from the Bahamas, averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season, helping lead Connecticut to a second WNBA Finals berth in four years. Before winning MVP, Jones was the 2017 Most Improved Player and 2018 Sixth Woman of the Year.

Jones will be the third player to win WNBA MVP and then play for a new team two seasons later, joining Elena Delle Donne (2015 MVP with theChicago Sky and then traded to theWashington Mystics in 2017) and Tina Charles (2012 MVP with the Sun and then traded to the Liberty in 2014).

"Jonquel has been an integral part of the Connecticut Sun's growth over the last seven years, and we truly appreciate everything she has given to this franchise," Sun general manager Darius Taylor said in a statement. "Ultimately, JJ's trade was a decision that both parties decided was best. We wish her the best in her future endeavors."

A source also told ESPN that the Sun intend to offerBrionna Jonesthe core designation by the league deadline Friday. Going into free agency, Connecticut wouldn't have had the cap space to pay the unrestricted free agent the regular supermax; but with Jonquel Jones now on the way out, it will be able to offer Brionna Jones the core designation, which would mean she cannot sign a contract directly with another team.

Brionna Jones, a 6-foot-3 forward and two-time All-Star, followed in Jonquel Jones' footsteps by winning Most Improved in 2021 and Sixth Woman of the Year in 2022.

The Sun -- who with these moves appear to be building around Brionna Jones and longtime franchise stalwart Alyssa Thomas -- are still searching for their first championship, having made the semifinals or better each of the previous four seasons.

Dallas, which introduced new coach Latricia Trammel this offseason, wasn't expected to have a busy free agency with only three free agents: Teaira McCowan, Marina Mabrey and Isabelle Harrison. The Wings figure to be building around Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally after winning the franchise's first playoff game since 2009, when the organization was located in Tulsa.

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