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Report: Lynx Targeting Vandersloot, Stevens in Free Agency

Courtney Vandersloot met with the Lynx offseason and will do so again, according to Howard Megdal of The Next. Azurá Stevens played with Lynx star Napheesa Collier at UCONN.

Las Vegas Aces v Chicago Sky - 2022 Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx will meet with former Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot of the after free agency opens on Saturday, according to a report from Howard Megdal of The Next.

Vandersloot, a four-time WNBA All-Star, met with the Lynx last offseason as well, before ultimately returning to the Sky on a one-year deal along with her wife, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, a Chicago area native and DePaul alumna. Quigley’s decision to return to the Sky for another season in free agency last year likely played a role in Vandersloot’s decision.

After the Sky’s season-ending loss to the Connecticut Sun in Game 5 of the WNBA Semifinals last season, Quigley addressed the uncertainty of her WNBA future, as it had been rumored all season that she was contemplating retiring after the season.

“I never imagined it ending up like this or having the career I had. Especially being able to do it in Chicago with my family, meet my wife, it’s unbelievable,” Quigley said, per ESPN. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

While Quigley didn’t announce her retirement, her postgame comments surely fueled the speculation that the 2022 season was her last. Given that Vandersloot, Quigley, and star forwards Candace Parker and Emma Meesseman — who has been outspoken against the league’s prioritization rule that takes effect this upcoming season — are all free agents, it seems that this may be a clean breaking point.

Megdal added the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty among the parties interested in Vandersloot. The talented guard is a native of Kent, Wa., a suburb of Seattle, and starred at Gonzaga in college. Vandersloot’s fit with the Liberty would be interesting considering she’d join All-Star point guard Sabrina Ionescu in the New York back-court, but if Ionescu moved off the ball, it could create a dynamic force to be reckoned with.

If the Lynx were to land Vandersloot, it’d be a transformational boost to the back-court. Minnesota Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Cheryl Reeve has been searching for a long-term replacement she feels comfortable with ever since Hall of Fame inductee and Lynx legend Lindsay Whalen retired in 2018, but hasn’t yet found the right fit. Vandersloot — who turns 34 on February 8 — may not reach Whalen’s eight-year tenure, but checks the boxes Reeve desires in a point guard.

Vandersloot averaged 11.8 points on 48.1/36.7/76.5 shooting splits, 6.5 assists to 2.7 turnovers, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and held an on-off of +12.7 across 26.5 minutes per game in 32 contests, all starts.

She is the top ‘floor general’ style point guard in free agency, and has a tremendous ability to run an organized offense through star players and make good decisions with the ball nearly every time down the floor. If Sloot chose Minnesota, we would see a fully optimized version of two-time All-Star forward Napheesa Collier that unquestionably raises the ceiling of an offense that struggled for stretches without Collier last season.

While Vandersloot, who is third on the WNBA’s all-time assists list (2,385), has been the heartbeat of one of the league’s most efficient offenses in recent years, she also has a penchant for coming through in clutch moments.

Lynx fans will remember well her buzzer-beating 3 to defeat Minnesota last June.

She came through in a major way in the 2021 WNBA Finals, too, which Chicago went on to win after knocking out the Lynx in the first round.

Megdal is also reporting that the Lynx are targeting versatile forward Azurá Stevens, one of Vandersloot’s teammates with the Sky. Stevens played with Collier at UCONN and possesses many of the skills Reeve is looking for in forwards/centers that can help replace the impact that the legendary Sylvia Fowles made during her dominant run in Minneapolis.

The five-year veteran averaged 10.6 points on 47.2/36.2/74.4 shooting splits, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.5 steals across 21.9 minutes per game in 35 contests, eight of which were starts.

At 6-foot-6, Stevens is a solid shooter with range beyond the arc (36.2%) and a good shot mix, too. She is a solid passer from the elbows and the perimeter, and she is a capable rebounder, too. Her height and vast wingspan allow her to disrupt the flow of opposing offenses both as a shot blocker inside and playing in the gaps to deflect passes.

When Fowles went down last season with a knee injury, Minnesota ran an inverted offense with bigs playing at the elbows to utilize Jess Shepard and Natalie Achonwa’s high-level passing talents. The Lynx may look to do that again if it provides more spacing for Collier to attack from all over the floor. Stevens’ shooting and passing abilities would fit that system nicely.

The Next reported that Stevens has ‘at least five suitors,’ with the Sun, Los Angeles Sparks, Sky and Indiana Fever joining the Lynx in among that group, with the potential for the Washington Mystics to become a player as well.

After playing behind Parker and Meesseman last season, Stevens could very well — and understandably — be looking for the opportunity to start. Minnesota may offer the clearest path to a starting spot, but she could pair with All-Star bigs in L.A. or Connecticut (if they retain Nneka Ogwumike and Brionna Jones, respectively), and solid young players NaLyssa Smith and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston in Indiana.

No matter what happens over the next few days, it should be an exciting period as the Lynx enter a new era — and can start to define at 11 PM CT tonight.

You can keep tabs on all the latest news involving the Lynx over at our 2023 WNBA Free Agency Tracker here ahead of the negotiating window opening at 11 PM CT tonight.

For more Lynx talk, follow us on Twitter @canishoopus. You can follow Jack at @jrborman13.