Sparks announce surprise release of Te'a Cooper months after signing her to new deal

Less than four months after signing her to a new deal, the Los Angeles Sparks announced on Wednesday that they have released guard Te'a Cooper.

The Sparks also announced the release of reserve Arella Guirantes and second-round rookie Kianna Smith.

Cooper is the latest surprise roster cut in the WNBA as teams trim their rosters ahead of Friday's season tip-off. The Minnesota Lynx turned heads on Tuesday when they released Layshia Clarendon, who started 20 games in Minnesota last year. They also released both of their 2022 draft selections Kayla Jones and Hannah Sjerven.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 12: Guard Te'a Cooper #2 of the Los Angeles Sparks handles the ball defended by forward Kennedy Burke #8 of the Seattle Storm at Staples Center on September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Te'a Cooper was relased by the Sparks on Wednesday. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Fisher in January: Cooper 'is important for us moving forward'

Cooper, 25, played two seasons for the Sparks. She started 13 games in 2021, averaging 9.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists an 0.9 steals per game while shooting 32.4% from 3-point distance. The Sparks signed her to a new deal in January alongside praise from head coach Derek Fisher.

“Her ability to disrupt the game defensively as well as attack the basket on the offensive end will be important for us moving forward," Fisher said via a team statement in January. "We’re confident she’ll continue to elevate her game and be an impact player in this league.”

Cooper is one of the WNBA's most popular players, with 1.5 million Instagram followers. The Sparks open their season on Friday with a road game against the Chicago Sky.