Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty bolster roster adding WNBA champs Natasha Howard, Sami Whitcomb

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Ashley Young
·2 min read
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Liberty bolster roster adding WNBA champs Natasha Howard, Sami Whitcomb originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The rumors that floated around indicating this WNBA free agency period would be epic have come to fruition.

With free agents able to officially sign new contracts beginning on February 1, the news of moving parts just keeps coming 10 days later. 

Sabrina Ionescu’s rookie season took an unexpected turn just three games into her WNBA career when she suffered an ankle injury that kept the former No. 1 overall draft pick out for the remainder of the season.

The New York Liberty finished with a 2-20 record down in the ‘Wubble’ in Bradenton, Florida.

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Ahead of this 2021 WNBA season, New York held the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 WNBA Draft for back-to-back seasons. To help build around Ionescu, instead of using the pick on a rookie, New York traded it away and acquired 3x WNBA Champ and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Natasha Howard from the Seattle Storm.

The seven-year veteran forward has won championships with the Minnesota Lynx (2017) and Seattle Storm (2018, 2020). Last season with Seattle, Howard averaged 9.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

Here’s what happened the last time Ionescu and Howard met on the court. And now they are teammates:

On the same day, New York also acquired Sami Whitcomb from the Seattle Storm. 

The 5’10” guard backed up the legend Sue Bird in Seattle and helped the Storm to championships in 2018 and 2020. Whitcomb averaged 8.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season in Seattle.

The Liberty needed veterans and experience surrounding Ionescu as she heads into her second season in the WNBA. Both these acquisitions help the Liberty immensely.