2022 WNBA free agency is going to be interesting! Candace Parker made the biggest move last year choosing to return home to Chicago, and culminated the season crowned a WNBA champion. Player movement is good for any sports league, especially the WNBA. Marquee players want to be in control of their careers.
In January 2020, the WNBA set the wheels in motion for players to move to new teams, as the league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The new CBA provides players with better travel accommodations, motherhood and family planning, and salary increases. Ultimately allowing for a total team salary cap of more than $1.3 million. And all WNBA teams must carry at least 11 players on their roster. Other changes that impact player movement include that a player can now only be “cored” three times, rather than four. And players must only finish five seasons prior to entering unrestricted free agency, down from six.
2022 WNBA Free Agency FAQs
Does the WNBA have free agency?
Yes. Teams can start negotiating with players on Jan. 15. But there’s a moratorium period and no contracts can be officially signed until Feb. 1.
How does WNBA free agency work?
Once free agency officially begins, teams can negotiate with players, and there are classifications that players fall into that determine how they can negotiate (4 main ones). From January 1 to January 14, teams are required to send out qualifying offers to make applicable players restricted or reserved. Most eligible players will get those qualifying offers, because it’s non-guaranteed money that teams can cut at a later date.
Categories of free agents
Free agents are expected to be divided into four categories: core players, reserved players, restricted free agents, and unrestricted free agents.
1. Core players
These are player designations that give that team exclusive negotiating rights with the player. According to the WNBA, players can now receive a core designation only three times in their career.
2. Reserved players
Players with three or fewer years of service are considered to be reserved players. According to the WNBA, the player’s prior team has exclusive negotiating rights (like the core designation).
3. Restricted free agents
These are players with four or five years of service. According to the WNBA, restricted free agency gives the player’s prior team the right to keep the player by matching a contract offer the player signs with another team during free agency. This ends up being a lot of players who have just finished their rookie scale contract.
The WNBA goes on to explain that if the player signs a contract offer with another team, the player’s prior team has four days from the date it received the offer to determine whether it wishes to match. If the offer is matched, the player will remain with their prior team. If the offer is not matched within the four-day period, the player will be under contract with the new team.
4. Unrestricted free agents
Unrestricted free agents are players who complete the playing services called for in their contract and have played for five or more years. They are free to sign with any team provided that they are not designated as a “Core Player” by their prior team, according to the WNBA CBA.
Top player free agents to watch in 2022
Keep your eye on the WNBA transactions page this year to see moves as they happen.
- Allie Quigley – Chicago Sky
- Angel McCoughtry – Las Vegas Aces
- Breanna Stewart – Seattle Storm
- Courtney Vandersloot – Chicago Sky
- Jewell Loyd – Seattle Storm
- Jonquel Jones – Connecticut Sun
- Kahleah Copper – Chicago Sky
- Liz Cambage – Las Vegas Aces
- Sylvia Fowles – Connecticut Sun
- Tiffany Hayes – Atlanta Dream
- Tina Charles – Washington Mystics
2022 WNBA free agency rumors
Discover some of the latest discussion and free agency speculation for this year.
The Atlanta Dream won’t bring back Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford after their involvement in a fight in May, according to the WNBA players’ agent, Marcus Crenshaw. Marcus, head of The Fam sports agency, spoke on an Instagram Live chat with Girls Talk Sports TV.
“Seattle has always been my [WNBA] home,” said Breanna Stewart reports ESPN. “It’s where I’ve grown up, it’s where my career has continued to blossom. So I plan on being back unless something crazy happens. We have more things to do here.”
Jewell Loyd said she and Breanna have talked about wanting to continue to play together, but she plans to take some time making a decision. “Seattle has been home for me for the last seven years,” said Jewell reports ESPN. “When you understand free agency, you understand you have the choice to stay or go. I’m going to take this time to have a break, talk with my family, talk with Stewie and everyone else. Reevaluate where I’m at in my life and my career and go forward from there.”
“With four expensive players already under contract for 2022, the Mystics are a little complicated…Retaining unrestricted free agent Tina Charles, keeping restricted free agent Myisha Hines-Allen and talking Emma Meesseman into returning to play in the WNBA never really looked feasible. They have six players under contract and only $456,900 in space remaining.” reports Her Hoops Stats.
WNBA free agency 2021
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