The lengthy WNBA offseason is underway and some Liberty players are already prepared to fulfill overseas commitments in the winter.
China has returned as a popular destination for players after the country had been closed to international players due to its COVID-19 policy. The Israel-Hamas war has taken away a destination for WNBA hoopers that was once an option. The Israel women’s basketball league has suspended play amid the ongoing war.
And no Liberty players expressed interest during exit interviews about playing in Russia while the country continues its ongoing war with Ukraine. WNBA players are also just less than a year removed from finally seeing Brittney Griner return home after being detained for 10 months in a Russian penal colony.
Here are the Liberty players offseason plans after the franchise’s run to the WNBA finals ended with last week’s loss to the Las Vegas Aces:
Center Jonquel Jones clearly stated where she’ll be playing this offseason.
“I’m going to China,” the star center said during exit interviews on Oct. 20. Jones hasn’t confirmed which team in China she’ll suit up for.
Forward Nyara Sabally headed to the Czech Republic the day after her exit interview to join EuroLeague team ZVVZ USK Praha. She recorded four points, five rebounds and a block in 15 minutes of action in her first EuroLeague game on Wednesday.
Sabally is “excited” to be in Prague, which she said is about a three-hour drive from her birthplace Berlin.
“Haven’t been that close to home in like six years,” Sabally said last week.
Guard Jocelyn Willoughby will be suiting up for the Women’s National Basketball League’s Adelaide Lightning in Australia. The New Jersey native made the switch to the Lightning after averaging 15 points per game with the Sydney Flame last season. The WNBL regular season starts on Nov. 1.
Marine Johannes is currently under contract with EuroLeague team Lyon ASVEL Féminin in France. Johannes helped the club win the Ligue Féminine and EuroCup Championship last season. Johannhes averaged 15 points per game and was named EuroCup MVP.
Chinese center Han Xu is staying home with Sichuan Yuanda in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association. Han Xu and her teammates — including 2023 WNBA All-Rookie Team selection Li Meng — look to defend their title after lifting the team to its first-ever title last season.
ON THE FENCE
Star Breanna Stewart is unsure of her status and addressed reports of her leaning towards playing in China.
“Definitely have not committed to anything. I know China is like an option and definitely up in the air,” the 2023 MVP said.
During last week’s exit interview, Stewart said she and her wife, Marta, are expecting the birth of their second child “next week.” The two-time MVP could announce a future plan once the family settles in with the newborn.
“Once we get into a good groove of having two [kids], which I’m not sure when that group comes, we’ll figure out the rest,” Stewart said.
Sabrina Ionescu plans on staying home and working with USA Basketball.
Courtney Vandersloot said she will enjoy a full WNBA offseason for the first time in her 13-year career. But, she still left the door open for a possible suitor overseas.
“My phone is always open,” the veteran guard said.
Betnijah Laney said she doesn’t plan on playing overseas. The Rutgers product played in every game this season after dealing with injuries in 2022. She was limited to just nine regular-season games that season due to undergoing meniscus surgery in her right knee before returning for postseason action.
“I think rest for my body considering the history of injuries and everything does me really well,” Laney said.