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Championship Hangover Starting Early for Chicago Sky

The championship hangover is starting early for the Chicago Sky, as the roster has changed quite a bit. That said, Kahleah Copper is here to stay.
Kahleah Copper Chicago Sky

Photo: Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2022 WNBA free agency chaos is underway and many teams have already made some significant roster moves.

The Connecticut Sun brought back Courtney Williams after she spent two seasons with the Atlanta Dream. Liz Cambage has verbally committed to playing with the Los Angeles Sparks after expressing her feelings about the Las Vegas Aces signing new head coach and WNBA great Becky Hammon to a million-dollar deal. The Seattle Storm are looking to load their roster up for another championship run. They have re-signed Sue Bird to a one-year contract, which will be her final season in 2022. Breanna Stewart and rising star Jewell Loyd have also re-signed with the team. In addition, Seattle also signed Briann January, who has spent the last two seasons with the Sun.

As for the reigning WNBA Champion Chicago Sky, the start of their offseason has been a bit shaky. They traded former All-Star Diamond DeShields in a three-way trade with the Mercury and Fever for Julie Allemand and Phoenix's 2023 first-round pick. Allemand was on the suspended list in 2021 due to overseas commitments and the Olympics. In 2020, she averaged 8.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 5.8 APG. This move should come as no surprise. DeShields has been struggling the past two seasons and has made it clear after the 2021 season that she needs a fresh start elsewhere.

Changes Coming for the Sky

What should come as a surprise are the reports that Courtney Vandersloot received a "disrespectful offer" from the Sky and is now planning to sit out the 2022 season and play overseas with her team in Russia.

One, if Vandersloot sat out the 2022 season, it would be a tremendous loss for not only the Sky, but for the WNBA as well. Vandersloot is not easily replaceable as she is one of the greatest facilitators of all time and one of the most clutch shooters in the game. Two, does this also mean her wife and teammate Allie Quigley would sit out too? That would leave the Sky without two of their best shooters. Julie Allemand has some big shoes to fill if she will be replacing Vandersloot in 2022.

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On top of that, Chicago lost its pick and roll queen, as Stefanie Dolson is headed home to New York. Dolson was a huge piece to the Sky's championship run in 2021 and will be missed dearly. However, to add to their much-needed depth at the forward and center positions, the Sky signed Crystal Bradford, who averaged 8.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.5 APG for the Atlanta Dream in 2021.

The Upcoming Draft

Even with the addition of Bradford, the Sky will still need to look for some length in the upcoming draft. There are so many talented bigs coming out of college in 2022.

Elissa Cunane, a 6-foot-5 center out of NC State, is one option. Cunane's frame makes her unstoppable on both ends. She is currently averaging 13.2 PPG and 7.9 RPG while shooting 50% from the field.

Drafting NaLyssa Smith out of Baylor would be huge for the Sky as well. This 6-foot-4 forward is an absolute force, averaging 20.8 PPG and 11.4 RPG while shooting 54% from the field.

The Queen from North Philly

Do not worry Chicago, your young queen from North Philly is here to stay. Kahleah Copper and the Chicago Sky have agreed to a two-year deal. The rising star will be returning to Wintrust Arena this spring to defend the title for the city of Chicago. The 2021 WNBA Finals MVP was one of the main reasons for Chicago's massive playoff spark as she averaged 17.7 PPG and 5.3 RPG while shooting 34.4% from behind the arc during the 2021 playoffs.

As of Feb. 9, the Sky's starting roster should be Candace Parker, Kahleah Copper, Azura Stevens, Julie Allemand, and Crystal Bradford, with Dana Evans coming off the bench. Hopefully, the Sky can make some moves in the coming weeks to add some much-needed depth as a repeat is looking more grim than not.