The Connecticut Sun still are reeling after falling just short of claiming this year’s WNBA championship.
Now, it’s time to regroup.
The Sun cruised to a 23-11 record during the regular season, landing themselves the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason. Connecticut saw much of the same success in the playoffs, but came just one game shy of winning it all in the team’s first WNBA Finals appearance since 2005.
So, what’s next?
Five of the Sun’s 12 players will play overseas during the offseason, per Winsidr: Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams, Brionna Jones and Natisha Hiedeman. There will be little rest for those five, who will return to the United States just in time to prepare for the upcoming season.
And after a heartbreaking loss in this year’s Finals, there’s no doubt the Sun will try to return in 2020. They wouldn’t be the first team to do so lately, either. The Mystics, who defeated the Sun in this year’s Finals, have made it to the final round two years in a row. The Minnesota Lynx reached the Finals three years in a row (2015 to 2017), claiming the title twice in that span.
So, it certainly isn’t impossible for the Sun to achieve. But all that, of course, depends on the team’s contract situation.
Three of the team’s starting five — Jones, Williams and Shekinna Stricklen — are unrestricted free agents come 2020. Jones and Williams currently are among the team’s lowest-paid players, per Sportrac.com, but likely will seek more money in free agency considering the success each of them found in 2019.
Stricklen, meanwhile, currently is one of the highest-paid players on the Sun, earning a base salary of $106,000 in 2019. That accounts for 11.34 percent of the team’s cap space alone.
Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas, who make up the remainder of the team’s starting five — take up a combined 24.87 percent of the team’s cap space. Jasmine had a base salary of $117,000 in 2019 while Alyssa’s was $115,000. Theresa Plaisance, who came off Connecticut’s bench after being traded to the Sun in midway through the season, made $104,000 in 2019, making her the fourth-highest paid player on the team.
The team’s five other unrestricted free agents — Hiedeman, Morgan Tuck, Layshia Clarendon, Rachel Banham and Bria Holmes — make up nearly one-third of the team’s current salary cap.
So clearly, the Sun have some work to do. And with the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement under the microscope, things could shuffle things around in the league.
Bottom line: anything is possible in 2020.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images