Candace Parker signs with Las Vegas Aces, ending unforgettable two-year run with hometown Chicago Sky – Twin Cities

Candace Parker chose to leave the Chicago Sky for the same reason she joined the team in 2021 – to go home.

Two-time WNBA champion Nadia Naperville announced on Saturday her decision to sign with the Las Vegas Ice as a free agent. In an Instagram post, she cited her family as her primary decision to move back near the West Coast.

“My family is my reason and purpose,” Parker, 36, wrote. “They have given me the greatest joys I have ever experienced and continue to show new levels of love and devotion I never knew existed. … While Chicago will always be my home, my family home is on the West Coast.”

Parker will sign a one-year contract extension with the Aces when free agents are allowed to sign starting Wednesday, according to ESPN.

When Parker returns to Chicago in 2021 after spending the first thirteen seasons of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks, she unlocks the final piece of the championship quest puzzle alongside superstars Courtney Vandersloot, Ally Quigley and Kahleh Cooper. After leading an unlikely 16-16 team to a WNBA title in 2021, Parker returned to cement a franchise record of 26 wins in 2022.

Parker wowed her hometown crowd, earning back-to-back All-Star appearances in her two seasons with Sky. She is a seven-time All-Star and a two-time WNBA MVP.

“When I made the decision to go to Chicago in 2021, I made the decision to go home and be with my family to the place where it all began,” Parker wrote. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and walk the same streets where I watched the Bulls parade as a little girl who first fell in love with the game of basketball.”

Although Parker achieved her ultimate goal in Chicago, her return home also came with sacrifice. Her 13-year-old daughter Leila, and 1-year-old son Air live with his wife, former Russian athlete Anna Petrakova, full-time in Los Angeles. Lila will start high school in California this fall, a turning point Parker said she couldn’t afford to miss.

Parker cited distance—and her refusal to miss her daughter’s volleyball games, school dances, and other irreplaceable moments—as a catalyst for her decision to sign with the Aces.

Parker will join the Aces facing scrutiny after the team was placed under investigation by the WNBA Players Association following accusations of discrimination by former forward Derekah Hamby.

After being traded with the Sparks last week, Hamby posted on Instagram that she accused members of the Aces front office and coaching staff of bullying, intimidation, and discrimination following her second pregnancy.

“Trading is part of the business,” Hamby wrote. “Lying, intimidating, manipulating and discriminating is not it. I had an attack on my character and work ethic. … The unprofessional and unethical way in which I was treated was traumatic. To be treated this way by an organization, by women who are mothers, who claimed they were ‘wearing these shoes’.” Who preaches about family, chemistry, and female empowerment is disappointing and leaves me sick to my stomach.

“We fought for provisions that would ultimately support and protect player parents. This cannot now be used against me.”

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, Parker’s meeting with the Aces took place the day after Hamby’s post.

While the details of the deal are not known, the maximum contract Parker could sign with the ace would be just over $183,000. The ace will need to trade a bench player to free up extra space for the salary cap. Parker’s income through the WNBA salary is supplemented by sponsorship arrangements with Adidas and her broadcast role with TNT, which may have been a factor in accepting the reduced salary.

Meanwhile, the Sky are now facing a difficult free agency period that could wipe out a slate coming off the winningest season in franchise history. As a free agent, longtime captain Courtney Vandersloot has been linked to both the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. His wife and co-leader, Allie Quigley, was rumored to be considering retirement since she chose not to play overseas during the WNBA offseason for the first time in her career.

Center Emma Meesemann and reserve keeper Julie Allemand are also unsure about re-signing with the Sky while Azurá Stevens continues to attract interest throughout the league as a versatile big stretch. Parker’s loss leaves a huge hole in the frontcourt, making Sky’s negotiations with Stevens a priority.

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

For Chicago, Parker’s two years symbolized the realization of a decades-long battle for a foothold in the WNBA.

The team fielded generational players—Vandersloot, Quigley, Copper, Elena Delle Donne, and Sylvia Fowles—and juggled the qualifying rounds. But before Parker’s arrival, Heaven had never quite fulfilled its potential.

To hit the milestones, the last two seasons with one of the two Chicago-specific seasons adding to the intensity of Parker’s run here.

“I forever appreciate everyone at Chicago—our fans, teammates, coaches, and ownership,” Parker wrote. “But more than in the past two seasons, I am grateful for the city that raised me in, the childhood friends I still have to this day, the teachers I still learn from, and the moments in time that will forever be in my heart.”

Chicago Tribune reporter Shakia Taylor contributed.


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