WNBA free agency begins, Liberty signs Indiana guard Zellous
NEW YORK (AP) WNBA free agency began Monday. As usual, don't expect much in the way of major player movement.
Sue Bird is the prized free agent of this offseason, but she likely won't be going anywhere. Bird is expected to re-sign with Seattle, the only team she's ever played for in the league.
While the veteran guard is almost certain to remain out West with the Storm, there are 30 other unrestricted free agents that teams can try to sign, including Swin Cash, Candice Wiggins, Renee Montgomery, Kara Lawson and DeLisha Milton Jones. If Milton Jones signs and makes a team, she would be playing in the league for an 18th season.
One move that will was made: Indiana Fever guard Shavonte Zellous is headed to New York. The Liberty signed Zellous on Monday to a multiyear contract. She gives New York a veteran guard to help fill the void left by Epiphanny Prince, who tore her ACL playing overseas this winter.
With the signing of Zellous, it's the second straight year the Liberty have made a splash on the free agent market. The Liberty brought in Tanisha Wright last season and went on to be the No. 1 seed in the East. New York also re-signed Carolyn Swords.
There are also talented restricted free agents on the market such as Nneka Ogwumike, Tiffany Hayes and Devereaux Peters. Their current teams are allowed to match any offer they could get from another club.
Financial constraints tend to limit bidding wars - and thus player movement - in the WNBA. The league knows a more active free agency period could draw increased interest from the casual fan.
Teams also are often aggressive in using the franchise tag on star players. Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, DeWanna Bonner and Crystal Langhorne were all tagged by their teams for the upcoming season.
''Having the ability to core players and not let them hit the market, it's very rare that they move,'' New York Liberty president Isiah Thomas said. ''When they have the opportunity and they are free, we want to be a place that's on top of their mind as a destination.''
Another factor that could come into play this offseason is the upcoming Rio Olympics. Many national teams will spend time training this summer or trying to qualify for the Olympics, which could take a lot of the foreign players out of the WNBA season until after the Rio Games.
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