Breanna Stewart Will Sign With Liberty, Joining Fellow M.V.P. Jonquel Jones

Breanna Stewart, a two-time W.N.B.A. champion with the Seattle Storm, announced on Wednesday that she will sign with the Liberty, ending months of speculation about where she would sign in free agency.

The announcement, on the first day that W.N.B.A. free agents could sign new contracts for the 2023 season, pairs Stewart with Jonquel Jones, who was traded to the Liberty from the Sun in January. Stewart and Jones have each won the W.N.B.A.’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Stewart, who grew up in North Syracuse, N.Y., made the announcement on social media, with a picture of the Empire State Building with the name “Stewie” on it and a video of herself removing a practice jersey to reveal her wearing a Liberty shirt.

Terms of her deal with the Liberty had not yet been announced. In the weeks leading up to the start of free agency, Stewart made player travel a key issue, posting, “I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA.”

W.N.B.A. teams travel by commercial airlines and not by charter flights, as many other professional and college athletes do. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said the league cannot afford to pay upward of $20 million each season for charter travel, though the league has allowed it under certain extenuating circumstances. The Liberty were fined $500,000 for secretly chartering flights during the 2021 season.

The Liberty’s off-season moves could make them a formidable W.N.B.A. title contender. Stewart and Jones join a roster that includes the All-Stars Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, and they may still be targeting other key free agents.

Though the Liberty are a founding member of the W.N.B.A., they have never won a title, and they last made the finals in 2002. But they may now be poised to take on the W.N.B.A.’s other super team in the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, who added Candace Parker to a roster that already features A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum.

Stewart was drafted by the Storm with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 W.N.B.A. draft after a stellar college career at Connecticut. She won four straight women’s basketball titles at UConn, and the Huskies compiled a record of 151-5 during her career. She won the Associated Press Player of the Year Award three times, after her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

Stewart led the Storm to the W.N.B.A. title in 2018 and 2020.

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