Kahleah Copper is here to stay — for now. It’s up to the Chicago Sky front office to make the most of it.

Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune/TNS

For at least two more seasons, Kahleah Copper will be the star of the show in Chicago.

The three-time WNBA All-Star signed a two-year extension with the Chicago Sky at the deadline on Sunday, inking a supermax deal worth $241,984 in 2024 and $248,134 in 2025 according to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The deal makes sense for both sides. Copper remains the star centerpiece of a team that made her a WNBA champion and pledged to build a future around her. The Sky, meanwhile, gained two seasons to begin reconstruction with a new coach and general manager at the helm.

“Chicago has been everything I could’ve asked for and more over the past seven seasons,” Copper said in a statement Sunday. “This is where I’ve grown as a player, as a person, and where I’m proud to say I’ve become one with this community. This city doesn’t cut corners and pours everything it has into each day. That’s a standard I’m proud to upkeep.”

The immediate focus for the Sky is the WNBA playoffs, which they will tip off on the road against the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday night. But once this season concludes, the franchise must quickly turn its attention to the same question for the second time this year: What will it look like to construct a roster around Copper?

The first attempt at this project failed upon launch for the Sky. Isabelle Harrison’s and Rebekah Gardner’s early injuries impeded the roster rebuild and the departure of James Wade left the team unmoored without a coach or general manager for the latter half of the season.

The Sky’s ability to wrangle that midseason turmoil into a playoff berth reflects the potential of the players on the roster. While the Sky never had the chance to see Wade’s vision for the roster fully in action, Copper voiced enthusiasm for the “scrappy, defensive-minded” identity players forged throughout the season.

“We continued to just know that whatever adversity hits us, we can handle it,” Copper said. “The thing that I like about this group is the personalities. You have people who haven’t been on WNBA rosters. You have people who are underrated. You got people who are overlooked.”

As the roster stands, Copper could return next year with the bulk of this current group. Starting shooting guard Marina Mabrey is signed through 2025 while Harrison, starting center Elizabeth Williams and secondary point guard Dana Evans are signed through 2024. Promising first-year forward Sika Kone is set for the longest duration with the Sky on a rookie scale contract that expires in 2027.

But there are also key uncertainties: Courtney Williams, Alanna Smith and Gardner each signed one-year contracts for 2023, leaving them in free agency this offseason. The contracts of bench contributors Ruthy Hebard, Morgan Bertsch and Robyn Parks are also set to expire at the conclusion of the season.

Smith found success in Chicago, earning nods as a potential league Most Improved Player of the Year as she recorded the most prolific season (9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds) of her five-year WNBA career. That success — paired with a strong partnership alongside Elizabeth Williams in the paint — could put her in a positive place to re-sign with the Sky next season. After missing most of this season with an injury, Gardner is in a similarly friendly position to remain in Chicago.

Courtney Williams, however, was one of the players who bore the brunt of the Sky’s growing pains. The former All-Star was asked to adapt to a point guard role midway through her eighth WNBA season, a challenging transition that resulted in a scoring dip to her lowest season average (10.4 points per game) since her rookie year.

Williams remained upbeat about the change throughout this season and bullish about her partnership with Copper, who sought her out in free agency last winter. But her desire to re-sign in Chicago will be tied to the expectations of her role — and her willingness to stick with the change if asked to remain a point guard.

Before the Sky can even begin to fill out their vision for a roster beyond Copper’s extension, however, the team needs to begin by filling the head coach and general manager vacancies.

Before Wade’s exit in July, the Sky was the last team in the league to have the same person hold the coach and general manager position. While the team hasn’t formally committed to splitting up the positions, many players and interim Emre Vatansever have voiced their hope that the role will not be combined again next year.

A shift in leadership could result in another roster upheaval ahead of next season. The Sky sacrificed three draft picks to acquire Marina Mabrey this year, holding only a second-round pick in the stocked 2024 draft. If the Sky hope to make roster moves this year, they’ll have to work in the margins of their currently rostered players — or use Copper’s star power and the promise of future training facility improvements to attract free agents.

Ultimately, the challenge is clear-cut for the Sky. Copper is here to stay — for now. It’s up to the front office to make the most of it.