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The 2022 WNBA free agency session is about to be in full swing. Players can begin negotiating and agreeing to deals with teams on Saturday and can sign the contracts beginning Feb. 1.
Here's what to know for the 2022 free agency period, including top free agents and teams likely to make moves. Follow Yahoo Sports for all of the latest reported deals, rumors and more.
Storm core Jewell Loyd, not Breanna Stewart
A clearer picture could be coming into focus in Seattle ahead of the 5 p.m. Friday deadline for qualifying offers. The Storm have put the core designation on Jewell Loyd, Rachel Galligan reported for Winsidr. Loyd can now take the one-year, $228,094 supermax offer, negotiate a longer deal with the team or agree to a sign-and-trade deal.
— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) January 14, 2022
The Storm's top three of Loyd, Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, who announced her return for a final year, are all unrestricted free agents. The team had the core designation to use, but could not use it on Bird. And there would be no point in doing so since it's almost guaranteed she's staying in the only town she's ever played. The franchise was fined for posting on social media "she's back" upon the point guard's announcement, per the Associated Press.
The other option was two-time Finals MVP Stewart. The core for Loyd indicates the club believes Stewart plans to re-sign in Seattle. If Loyd does want to play elsewhere, the team can broker a trade in which they would have something in return for the talented guard.
The No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft averaged a career-high 17.9 points and 3.8 assists per game in 2020. She was a key part of the 2018 and 2020 title-winning teams.
Sky core Finals MVP Kahleah Copper
The Chicago Sky have opted to use the core designation on Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, one of their plethora of free agents this offseason, Annie Costabile reported for the Chicago Sun-Times. The offer is a one-year supermax deal for $228,094. The sides can negotiate different terms and Copper can agree to a sign-and-trade deal.
Copper told Yahoo Sports in October she was heading into free agency with an "open mind, but I really love the city of Chicago" and it was somewhere she wanted to stay. She averaged a team-best 14.4 points on 45.9% shooting overall. During their long playoff run as the No. 6 seed, she averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 52%.
The supermax offer is a bump of approximately $63,000 from her 2021 salary. The Sky have already extended qualifying offers to Diamond DeShields ($73,542) and Lexie Brown ($72,141).
It leaves $534,438 in cap room (excluding non-guaranteed contracts) as the team looks to re-sign a combination of Courtney Vandersloot ($200,000 salary in 2021), Allie Quigley ($194,000), Stefanie Dolson ($175,000) and Astou Ndour-Fall ($70,040).
MVP Jonquel Jones cored by Sun
Jonquel Jones, the 2021 league MVP, received the core designation from the Connecticut Sun on Monday, Rachel Galligan reported for Winsidr. The core qualifying offer is for a one-year, $228,094 supermax deal. Jones can sign the offer or negotiate a multiyear deal with the Sun, which selected the 6-foot-6 forward at No. 6 in the 2016 WNBA draft.
It does not confirm Jones will stay in Connecticut. The team could engage in a sign-and-trade deal, such as the Seattle Storm did in sending Natasha Howard to New York last year. Core players have to approve trades.
Jones, who turned 28 on Jan. 5, averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in her MVP season.