WNBA expansion still seems to be a topic of discussion around the league.
It happens in the offseason, around the preseason and the draft, and it always comes up during Commissioner Cathy Engelbert’s State of the League press conference during the All-Star Game.
Last weekend was no different. As the WNBA enters the second half of its season, add a list of topics of concern to the players and the league.
For several years, Engelbert has said the league would expand when the time was right and all 12 current teams would be in good standing financially. The league has not had an expansion franchise since Atlanta in 2008. Las Vegas and Dallas were existing franchises that relocated.
Engelbert says it’s not just about choosing the right cities. What’s more important is finding ownership groups that would be a good fit for the league. Las Vegas owner Mark Davis has been a welcome addition, investing in the defending champion Aces including build a new a state-of-the-art practice center.
During All-Star weekend, Engelbert said the league should have news on expansion later this season.
“Our conversations with potential ownership groups are moving in the right direction,” the commissioner said.
Although no specific city has been named as a possible location for expansion, Engelbert mentioned the success of the preseason game in Toronto between Chicago and Minnesota that drew nearly 20,000 fans.
“We were delighted with the result,” she said. “We’re still talking about it. There is still a lot of buzz, and we appreciate that our counterparts in Canada have contributed to this success.
While the league is looking for the right ownership groups, players are not so quick to want expansion, believing there are other things the league should focus on, like travel and benefits.
“I feel like we have some holes that we can work on right now,” said Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who is the senior vice president of the WNBA Players’ Association. “We can do a better job of finding ways to solve some of the current problems we face. »
Plum knows the league needs to expand its footprint, but believes players need to be treated better first.
“I understand that expansion is important, I understand the growth of the league, I understand the growth in cities, and I think that’s something to come,” Plum said. “I don’t think this should take precedence over charter flights. I don’t think that should take precedence over salary benefits.”
AP WNBA POLL
Las Vegas, New York and Connecticut remain the top three teams in the rankings. Dallas and Washington were next, followed by Atlanta and Minnesota. Chicago was eighth and Los Angeles was ninth. Indiana, Phoenix and Seattle round out the poll.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
A’ja Wilson had another impressive week before the All-Star break, averaging 22.5 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to help the Aces win both of their games. Las Vegas enters second half of the season on a record pace of 19-2. Other players receiving votes included Sabrina Ionescu of New York and Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas.
INVEST IN THE WNBA
Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade joins Chicago Sky ownership group once it is approved by the WNBA Board of Governors.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be on this side of history. Seeing growth, on the business side, for something I’ve been passionate about my whole life is an incredible feeling. Incredible things are happening in the WNBA. It’s official ! It’s for the home team – literally,” Wade wrote on Twitter.
Wade, a Chicago native who retired from the NBA in 2019, also joined the ownership groups of Major League Soccer’s Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake.
VISIT OF THE PRESIDENT
The Las Vegas Aces will travel to the White House on August 25 to be honored by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for winning the WNBA title last season. The Aces face the Washington Mystics the next day.
The WNBA All-Star Game took place in prime time for the first time and recorded its highest audience in 16 years with 850,000 viewers. This represents an increase of 16% compared to last year. Skills competitions and 3-point shootouts saw a 43% increase over last season.
Brittney Griner had a triumphant return at the WNBA All-Star Game a year after she was an honorary member of the competition while stuck in a Russian prison. Griner scored 18 points, including two dunks, as his team won the exhibition game. The Mercury play two home games before a four-game road trip.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Connecticut vs. Atlanta. The Sun and Dream play a set at home this week. Atlanta is one of the hottest teams in the league, winning six straight before the All-Star break.