Coming into the 2022 season, the Chicago Sky were riding high after an incredible title run in 2021. They went through the course of this past season healthy and on pace with the eventual champion Las Vegas Aces as the best team in the league. They finished the regular season tied for first at 26-10 and with the second best home record at 14-4. All the while, their core group of Kahelah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot, newly signed and proven winner Emma Messeeman and the one and only Candace Parker achieved All-Star status. Allie Quigley joined in on the fun by winning the 3-point contest. Their bench was stacked with the addition of overseas veteran Rebekah Gardner and Belgium phenom Julie Allemand rounding out the dynamism of Azurá Stevens and Dana Evans. All systems were go, but then came Game 5 of the semifinals against the Connecticut Sun.
The Sky went into the fourth quarter before their home crowd with a 10-point lead at 58-48, but then things started to unravel quickly as the Sun outscored them 24-9 en route to victory. The then defending champions were devastated beyond belief and head coach and general manager James Wade summed it up best when he explicitly said he was “disappointed.” The feeling afterwards was that this may be the last we have seen of the Chicago Sky as we have grown to know them in just the span of a year.
The future of the team hangs in limbo and relies on the outcome of a few critical factors.
First, Parker, Meesseman, Quigley, Stevens, and Vandersloot are all unrestricted free agents and there is much speculation about what they will choose to do. Parker and Quigley are both 36 years old and there are rumblings about whether either of them will consider retirement. For Parker, considering all that she has meant to the sport, some are wondering if she will play out at least one more season so that she can have the type of deserving sendoff given to Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles. However, after the loss to Connecticut, she said with tremendous introspection that the last thing she would want to do is “cheat the game” if she is not able to contribute.
Then there is Vandersloot and Quigley, who are a married couple and have made a life for themselves in Chicago. They have both expressed a genuine love for the team, but who knows what will happen. Meesseman who signed a one year contract and has plenty of obligations overseas has said that she wants to take a couple months. Stevens, who some have seen as the successor to Parker and who has proven to contribute a great deal at both ends of the floor with her flexible style of play, hasn’t really said anything about her future with the team.
So it is safe to say that everything is up in the air and too early to determine. It is a question of whether the entirety or majority of the Sky’s roster will return to keep them a top contender or if we will see a complete dismantling of a team that won over so many hearts.