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WNBA stars could be on the move as free agency set to begin

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Some of the biggest stars in the WNBA could be on the move with free agency set to begin this weekend.

Teams can start talking to their own restricted and unrestricted free agents Saturday. Deals can’t be officially announced until Feb. 1.

Everyone in the league would like to add that player who could lead them to the title like Chicago found last season when Candace Parker decided to return home and help the Sky win the franchise’s first WNBA championship.

The combination of new coaches in Phoenix, Las Vegas, New York and Atlanta, along with the amount of available talent, could result in a lot of movement over the next few weeks.

Some of the top unrestricted free agents include Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd of Seattle; Liz Cambage of Las Vegas; Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota; Courtney Williams of Atlanta and Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Stefanie Dolson of Chicago. Former MVP A’ja Wilson is the top restricted free agent, meaning the Aces could match any offer from other teams. She’s not expected to leave Las Vegas.

The most likely players to move include Cambage and Williams. Atlanta has already said it won’t bring Williams back after she and teammate Crystal Bradford were seen on video throwing punches in a confrontation with a number of women in late May near a food truck in the Atlanta area.

The Sky will have tough choices to make to try and keep their roster together to repeat as WNBA champions. Chicago already has designated WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper with the franchise tag. League MVP Jonquel Jones was also given the core designation by the Connecticut Sun. Copper, Jones and anyone else who is cored will be given a 1-year super max deal of $228,094.

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to inform the league of who they are giving the franchise tag to.

Seattle could choose to give the core designation to either Stewart or Loyd. Bird announced on social media last week that she’d be returning for one more year. She’s played her entire career in Seattle and is expected to finish her career there.

The business of free agency started early in Seattle.

The Storm were fined for tweeting out photos of Bird and making public comments on a free agent after the guard announced she was returning for anther season, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made of the fine. It’s rare a WNBA team is fined for publicly commenting on a free agent.

On Saturday, the business of free-agency officially begins leaguewide.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

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