Dearica Hamby is off to a fresh start with the Sparks with the opening of WNBA free agency

You did not choose, my dear Hamby sparks. Just talking to the team on the phone when the Las Vegas Ice made it clear that they intended to trade the two-time All-Star moved Hamby to tears.

But hear the sentiments from Sparks’ general manager Karen Bryant On the other end of the line, Hamby made it known that Sparks was happily choosing her.

“I just kind of fell in love with it,” Hamby said Wednesday in her first public comment since joining the group Sparks in the trade That rocked the WNBA after the expectant mother posted a statement on Instagram accusing the Aces members of discrimination.

Hamby is one of the Sparks’ newest additions as the team reconfigures its roster under first-year head coach Bryant Kurt Miller. The franchise announced the signing of free agents Lexi Brown and Stephanie Talbot on Wednesday, the first day of their WNBA free agent signing period, while former Sparks free agents Brittney Sykes and Christy Tolliver both joined the Washington Mystics.

Wednesday’s opening move for a free agent adds to the Sparks’ previous trade acquisitions of Hamby and guard Jasmine Thomas, who last played Miller with the Connecticut Sun.

Thomas reunites with a familiar coaching staff, but Hamby will start over with her second WNBA franchise during her nine-year professional career.

After winning the aces tournament, Hamby was traded unofficially. she wrote on Instagram that members of the organization questioned her commitment to the team, telling her she “didn’t accept [her offseason] She exercises seriously” despite working with a team and personal trainers throughout her pregnancy, and questioned her ability to play this postpartum season, which led to her career.

Hamby said she still practices, but has cut back on basketball as her March due date approaches. She said she would “be back in court soon” if all goes as planned, but she prioritizes the health of her future son. She noticed her blood pressure had “goed through the roof” several weeks ago.

The 6-foot-3 striker was Last year’s Salam magazine cover With her daughter, Amaya, she showcases the two-time sixth player’s ability to balance basketball and motherhood. Because of her status as one of the most prominent moms in the WNBA, Hamby wanted to highlight her experience in Las Vegas, even if the engagement was painful.

“If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,” Hamby said. “I am confident that the people who said these things or did these things will be held accountable.”

Hamby declined to comment on whether she would pursue legal action, now deferred to the WNBA Players Assn. , which announced it would investigate Hamby’s allegations last month. Hamby said Sparks striker Nika OgomekWho is the president of the players union has been in contact with her.

Sparks forward Nica Ogomiek, right, attempts a shot as Sun forward Alyssa Thomas shoves during a game on Aug. 11, 2022.

Sparks forward Nica Ogomiek, right, attempts a shot as Sun forward Alyssa Thomas shoves during a game on Aug. 11, 2022.

(Mark J. Tyrrell / Associated Press)

“Nneka has been very supportive from the start,” Hamby said, “and also kind of a contributor to the reason for continuing the trade.”

The Sparks stopped short of officially announcing Ogwumike’s return to the franchise on Wednesday, but made it clear that the former Most Valuable Player and current unrestricted agent will play a pivotal role in the organization’s next phase.

“She’s a world-class human being, and she’s so committed to the Sparks, she’s been public about it,” Bryant said during a virtual press conference. “She’s been a partner of Kurt and I since day one we touched ground here in LA and that just keeps getting stronger.”

With the franchise continuing to perform consistently Ogwumike, the Browns bristled at the mention of a “rebuild” for the Sparks — even though the team was mired in its worst two seasons in franchise history, reconfigured its front office and coaching staff, and entered free agency with the most space out there. any team in the league.

“I don’t really like the word ‘rebuild,’” said Brown, who re-signed with the team to a multi-year contract after scoring a career-best 39.8% of the three-point combo last year. “I think you’re setting yourself up to have low expectations and not deliver. If you want to call it a rebuild, that’s fine, but we definitely have championship aspirations this year.”

The addition of Brown, Thomas and Talbot shows Miller’s intent to address the Sparks’ recent lack of three-point shooting around Ogwumike’s steady presence. Ogwumike earned her seventh All Star honor last year while the team ranked last with three point percentage.

Thomas, who spent the past seven years with Miller at Connecticut, tore her anterior cruciate ligament that cost her all but five games last season. In 2021, the 5-foot-9 guard shot assists at 40% from three-point range and averaged four assists per game.

Talbot is a three-point shooting percentage of 37.6% over her five-year career in the WNBA. The Australian played the previous two seasons with the Seattle Storm.

The deals that brought Thomas and Hamby to Los Angeles also brought important assets for the future: first-round draft picks in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Sparks now has two first-round draft picks in the stacked class of 2024 that could include stars like Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Stanford’s Cameron Brink, and Louisiana’s Angel Reese.

He wouldn’t call it a rebuild, but Miller said the recruiting choices are “essential to building in Los Angeles.”

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