WNBA free agency 2023 got its first major move Saturday afternoon, with Candace Parker announcing via Instagram that she will be signing with the Las Vegas Aces.
Parker is 36 years old, but still has plenty left in the tank. She averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists last year at 28.3 minutes per game. The 2x MVP, 7x All-Star, and 2x WNBA Champion will join forces with the reigning champion Aces, which will make one of the greatest starting lineups of all time. Parker, one of the WNBA GOATs, will join fellow MVP A’ja Wilson in the frontcourt, which will seem like an unstoppable duo.
Parker is also a No. 1 draft pick, which means the Aces will be starting FOUR of them (Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young). Her veteran presence and championship experience will make the Aces even tougher to beat this upcoming season.
What does this massive signing of Candace Parker mean for the Aces’ repeat chances? On paper, this move looks like it will make the Aces pretty unstoppable. Even before Parker announced her decision to move to Vegas, the Aces were already favorites to win the 2023 WNBA title. Per FanDuel Sportsbook, they were +190 before Parker’s announcement, and have moved to +145 since, both being the highest odds in the league. The New York Liberty jumped up a few spots to +280 after the Jonquel Jones trade, and might jump even more if they are able to land Breanna Stewart.
Obviously there is much more to basketball than paper. Just because the Aces are the favorite right now, doesn’t mean anything once actual basketball starts being played. They will still need to go out and win games, including in the playoffs, where until this past season, they struggled mightily. Any time teams go out and make big changes or add big names like this, chemistry is always a factor. The Aces were champions last year, and put up some historic numbers in the process. Chemistry was great and the organization seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Does that all continue after mixing things up, especially considering how Dearica Hamby was traded and the complications surrounding that move? Do the players still trust management the same after that? What will this move mean for the rest of Aces free agency? ESPN’s Kevin Pelton broke this down with some good insight:
How Las Vegas will fill out the roster after trading Hamby to the Sparks remains to be seen. At present, the Aces can’t afford to pay Parker her maximum salary ($202,154 changing teams as a free agent). She would have to take about a $20,000 pay cut, unless Las Vegas waives a player without a protected contract. (Riquna) Williams, whose $149,500 salary is not protected, per HerHoopStats.com data, would be the logical candidate, but she also would be hard to replace in free agency.
So not only is chemistry a factor, but they will need to make some pretty tough decisions with the rest of the roster, maybe having to let go of the player that made the biggest shots of the season in the final minute of the championship-clinching game.
All things considered, this is a huge move for the Aces. They were going to be the favorite either way heading into the 2023 season, and Candace Parker is going to make them even tougher to beat. There will probably be some growing pains and maybe a little bit of drama if things get bumpy at first, but going up against this team is going to be very difficult for the other WNBA teams. Las Vegas will seek to become the first repeat winner since 2002 when the Los Angeles Sparks went back-to-back. If there is a team that is going to break that 20+ year drought, it’s the 2023 Las Vegas Aces.