2024 WNBA schedule release: Aces-Liberty rematches, Fever's No. 1 pick debut and other games to watch

The Liberty's Breanna Stewart and the Aces' A'ja Wilson battle for the ball during during Game 3 of the 2023 WNBA Finals on Oct. 15, 2023, at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 2024 WNBA season will open in May with games featuring the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces, runner-up New York Liberty and 2024 lottery winner Indiana Fever, who could draft standout Caitlin Clark in April.

The season will tip off with four games on Tuesday, May 14, and run through Sept. 19 with every team in action on the final day, the league announced Monday. There will be a break in play from July 21 through Aug. 14 for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Each team will still play 40 games over a 15-week span that excludes the monthlong break. The league announced earlier Monday changes to the Commissioner’s Cup format, which count toward overall league standings. It also announced free agency dates. Teams can begin negotiating with players Jan. 21 and free agents can begin signing contracts Feb. 1.

The season tips off on opening night with plenty of star power. The Aces, who return their core four after winning a second consecutive title in October, will open at home against the Phoenix Mercury (10 p.m. ET). The TV and streaming schedule will be released at a later date.

The Liberty, who fell in four games to the Aces in the WNBA Finals, will travel to play the Washington Mystics (7 p.m. ET) as they did to open last season. And Indiana, which won the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 draft and brings back Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, will travel to the Connecticut Sun (8 p.m.), which returns MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas.

The fourth game of the night is Seattle at Minnesota. The Storm have the No. 4 pick in a loaded draft and Minnesota returns Napheesa Collier and Diamond Miller.

Here are the most anticipated matchups ahead of free agency, including the WNBA Finals rematches between the super-team Aces and Liberty.

Aces-Liberty rematch dates in 2024

Las Vegas and New York will meet three times in the regular season beginning on June 15 in Las Vegas. They’ll play again in Vegas on Aug. 17 and in Brooklyn on Sept. 8.

They split the 2023 regular-season series 2-2, though the Liberty won the Commissioner’s Cup final over the Aces. Las Vegas won the WNBA title in Game 4 without starters Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes, who were both out with injuries.

Las Vegas has its core four of Gray, A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young signed through 2024 as well as Sixth Player of the Year Alysha Clark. Gray sustained a left foot injury in Game 3 of the Finals and was in a boot with a scooter to get around. It is unclear when she might return. The largest question mark is at forward with Stokes, who was on both Aces title teams, and Parker, a three-time WNBA champion and former MVP, both unrestricted free agents.

New York could also be looking for another frontcourt player to pair with reigning MVP Breanna Stewart. Stewart will be an unrestricted free agent, but general manager Jonathan Kolb told reporters she will “100% be cored” by the organization to stay in New York for at least an additional year.

Starters Sabrina Ionescu, Courtney Vandersloot and Betnijah Laney are all signed through at least 2024, but center Jonquel Jones is an unrestricted free agent. The 2021 MVP is still chasing her first WNBA championship after playing in three Finals series, and her landing spot seems most likely to be New York or Vegas.

Caitlin Clark’s first games in WNBA?

Clark’s entry in the WNBA Draft is not certain since she has an extra year of COVID-19 availability remaining at Iowa. But if she does enter the draft, the Indiana Fever will almost certainly take her with their No. 1 overall pick and pair her with 2023 Rookie of the Year Boston.

The Fever open the season with tough tests in the Liberty and Sun, both of which reached the semifinals last season as top-four seeds. After a road trip to Connecticut, the Fever open at home against the Liberty on May 16. They’ll play the Liberty again on May 18 in Brooklyn and host the Sun on May 20.

Indiana plays one-third of its home games in September during a six-game homestand from Sept. 4-15.

If Iowa guard Caitlin Clark declares for the 2024 WNBA Draft, the Indiana Fever have the No. 1 pick for the second season in a row. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
If Iowa guard Caitlin Clark declares for the 2024 WNBA Draft, the Indiana Fever have the No. 1 pick for the second season in a row. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sun return Brionna Jones, host Sparks in Boston

Connecticut center Brionna Jones told the Boston Globe she should be ready for training camp after tearing her Achilles on June 20. If she is ready for opening night, the 2022 Sixth Player of the Year would make her return at home against Indiana. The Sun play seven of their first 10 games of the season in Connecticut.

Jones was in Boston last week to celebrate the news of the Sun’s first game in the city Aug. 20 at TD Garden. The franchise announced the game last week, but did not release the opponent at the time.

The Sun said the game stemmed from the organization’s “desire to give access” to the Sun brand and in-person experience to “a larger swath of New England” while generating more excitement around the WNBA.

The team plays about two hours southwest of Boston and has never held a game in the city. Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told Axios in October there were discussions to bring a WNBA expansion team to the city.

Mystics to play Liberty two times in May

The Washington Mystics gave the Liberty close calls in 2023 and nearly forced a deciding Game 3 in the first-round playoff series that would have been played in Washington, D.C.

After hosting New York on May 14, Washington will travel to play in Brooklyn on May 31 and June 9. Washington will play its penultimate game of the season at home against New York as the middle of its three-game homestand in the final week.

The team could look a lot different since stars and 2019 champions Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and Tianna Hawkins are unrestricted free agents. Shakira Austin is coming off an injury and signed through the season.

Up-and-comers Dallas, Atlanta meet

Dallas finished fourth in league standings and ran into the juggernaut Aces in the semifinals, where the Wings were swept. The Dream started hot, fell off in the middle of the season and still secured the No. 5-seed behind Dallas.

Both teams are on the cusp of breaking into regular title contenders and their matchups are proving important in distancing themselves from each other in the standings. The two will meet three times: May 21 and Sept. 6 in Atlanta and July 5 in Dallas.

Diana Taurasi and more return after injury

The Mercury’s opening game in Las Vegas would be the first back for three-time WNBA champion Diana Taurasi. Taurasi, 41, missed the end of the 2023 season with a quad strain and has dealt with health issues most of the past five years.

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi has not announced her retirement and is assumed to be playing in 2024. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi has not announced her retirement and is assumed to be playing in 2024. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Austin underwent surgery to repair a labrum tear in her left hip and is expected out for four to six months. She might not be ready to play in Washington’s opener and could be out until June, when the Mystics play the Aces twice in 11 days.

Skylar Diggins-Smith missed the entire 2023 season after the birth of her second child. She was signed with the Mercury, but is a free agent and unlikely to re-sign in the desert after issues arose between the two sides.