Off-season trades change WNBA landscape

Bria Hartley at one of her last UConn games Feb. 9, 2014 against South Carolina at South Carolina.  The Huskies won 87-62.  Bria Hartley was on of the three players that have recently been involved in large WNBA trades moving to the New York Liberty.  (File Photo/ The Daily Campus)

Over the past few days the WNBA landscape has changed with the announcement of some major trades.

Former UConn player Bria Hartley was traded to the New York Liberty along with Kia Vaughn in a three-team deal that sent center Carolyn Swords to Seattle and gave Washington the sixth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Both Hartley and Vaughn most recently played for the Washington Mystics. Hartley is a Long Island native who benefits from moving closer to home as she just had her first child.

By joining the Liberty, Hartley has become teammates with former UConn players Tina Charles and Kiah Stokes.

Last season the Liberty finished 21-13, which ranked third in the overall WNBA standings and first in the Eastern Conference. Coached by former NBA player Bill Laimbeer, the Liberty have never brought home a WNBA championship trophy, and ending that drought is a big point of emphasis for the team.

The biggest trade of the offseason is Elena Delle Donne being sent to Washington from Chicago in exchange for former UConn player Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. While this trade has not yet been announced by the WNBA, the Chicago Sky president confirmed the trade to the New York Times Monday night.

Delle Donne made waves back in 2008 when she abruptly withdrew from UConn after committing to play for the team. She decided instead to move back home and attend the University of Delaware. She was the No. 1 recruit in the country. This past summer Delle Donne was on the Geno Auriemma-coached U.S. National Olympic Team that won gold in Rio.

After hurting her thumb this past season, Delle Donne was forced to watch from afar as her team performed well in the playoffs, making it to the semi-finals of the WNBA playoffs.

However, after three years with the Sky, Delle Donne made it clear that she wanted to be traded and would sit out a year if necessary. By going to Washington, Delle Donne will be much closer to her family in Delaware, including her sister Lizzie who struggles with blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy.

The Washington Mystics are coached by Mike Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history. By going to Washington, Delle Donne has become teammates with veteran guard Ivory Latta and center Emma Meesseman, who averages 15.2 points per game.

By joining the Chicago Sky, 2015 All-Star Dolson joins a team in its rebuilding stage. They recently let go of head coach Pokey Chatman and hired Amber Stocks, a former assistant coach for the Los Angeles Sparks.  However, there is hope for the Sky as they still feature two-time WNBA Sixth Player of the Year award winner Allie Quigley, WNBA Finals MVP Cappie Pondexter and high-efficiency point guard Courtney Vandersloot.


The WNBA enters its 21st season this upcoming May.


Mariana Dominguez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.