Ogwumike traded by Sun, reunited with sister in LA
NEW YORK (AP) — The Ogwumike sisters are back together.
The Connecticut Sun traded Chiney Ogwumike to Los Angeles for the Sparks’ 2020 first-round pick on Saturday. The move reunites Ogwumike with her sister, Nneka, who plays for the Sparks. The two played together in college at Stanford.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be playing with my sister,” Chiney Ogwumike told the AP in a phone interview. “Basketball has always been a family thing for me.”
Chiney Ogwumike was the No. 1 pick by the Sun in 2014 and she has been one of the most popular players in the franchise’s history. She’s had to miss two seasons because of injuries. She missed the 2015 WNBA season with a knee injury and sat out 2017 because of an Achilles tendon injury. Both were suffered while she played overseas.
“I absolutely loved and appreciated my time in Connecticut,” Chiney Ogwumike said. “I love the organization and they were my family away from home. They believed in me in my darkest days after I got hurt twice. Connecticut will always be home.”
Last season, Ogwumike was an All-Star and averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. She shot 60.3% from the field, the third-highest mark in the league.
“Chiney Ogwumike is one of the most athletic, versatile and efficient front-court players in the WNBA,” Sparks general manager Penny Toler said. “Chiney provides us additional inside scoring, rebounding and rim protection. She will be a great addition to our roster.”
The Ogwumikes become the second pair of sisters in the WNBA to play for the same team, according to the league. The Millers, Coco and Kelly, played for Atlanta in 2010.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad we can pick up where we left off,” Nneka Ogwumike told the AP in a text. “Playing with my sis was always a dream, so I’m excited to pursue another championship dream with her on the court, by my side.”
While injured, Ogwumike started working for ESPN and last year became a full-time basketball analyst for the network. At 27, she is one of the youngest analysts at ESPN and one of the few women in that role. ESPN has studios in Los Angeles.
The Sun had a 21-13 record in 2017 when Ogwumike was hurt and the same mark this past year when she was healthy.
Trading Ogwumike helps Connecticut clear up some salary cap space.
“It gives us some flexibility on the cap on a year when we’ll have a boatload of players come off contract,” Sun general manager and coach Curt Miller said. “It also gives us an asset we can turn around this year or we can play out how the season goes and how LA does and see who is coming into the draft.”
Miller was sad to see Ogwumike go.
“I truly enjoyed coaching Chiney,” he said. “She was the consummate pro with a tremendous work ethic. She was easy to coach and brought the same positive attitude and energy every single day to the court and the locker room. You know what you can expect every single day with Chiney and that’s what makes her special.”