The New York Liberty built a superteam in the offseason and Sabrina Ionescu will remain a part of it for at least two more years. The guard signed a two-year contract extension to remain with the team that selected her with its first-ever No. 1 overall pick, the Liberty announced Monday.
“We couldn’t be more excited to announce Sabrina’s multi-year extension,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. “Her career is already off to a historic start and her will to win is truly unparalleled. Sab has quickly become synonymous with the Liberty franchise, and we look forward to her continued success in New York for many years to come.”
It's a two-year deal worth $410,000, according to Her Hoops Stats' Richard Cohen. The reported $202,000/$208,060 split amount is a pay raise for the 25-year-old. It's unprotected because the team has already given its guaranteed salaries to the maximum six players.
Cohen noted that Ionescu's deal is the first example of an agreement that could have gone beyond 2025 but didn't. This comes as the league braces for a new collective bargaining agreement and broadcasting rights deal to reflect its growth.
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) May 15, 2023
New deal, potentially new Ionescu
The WNBA season, her fourth, begins Thursday. It will be different than usual for the former Oregon superstar for a few reasons.
Her role on the Liberty has changed. While the rising star was the clear focal point in New York in her first three seasons, the additions of 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, 2019 MVP Breanna Stewart and offensive powerhouse Courtney Vandersloot will potentially place Ionescu in more of a supporting role.
This campaign also comes after a unique offseason for Ionescu. In 2020, she sustained a Grade 3 left ankle sprain in her third career WNBA game, which forced her to miss the rest of the COVID-19 “wubble” season. She underwent ankle surgery in November of that year, which impacted her during the 2021 season and even after its conclusion.
She bounced back in 2022, setting a WNBA standard for points, rebounds and assists in a season. She averaged 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists and earned her first All-Star nod, in addition to an All-WNBA Second Team selection.
With that momentum, Ionescu also found herself with the freedom to prepare for this season with no restrictions.
"It’s my first offseason not rehabbing, and I could say it’s the first offseason that I’ve been able to kind of map out and know exactly what it’s going to look like and not have any obstacles of surgery procedures, you know, whatever that looks like,” Ionescu told The New York Post, adding that she “just hit the ground running.”
Fans will have an opportunity to watch her season debut against the Washington Mystics on Friday as the Liberty seek their first league title since 2000.