When an athlete hits the free agent market, there is a lot for them to think about. Whoever they decide to sign with will be the place they call home for the foreseeable future. Some players take days to decide, while others take a few hours or minutes. For Candace Parker, she wasn’t worried about how long it took to decide her WNBA future.
The two-time MVP entered uncharted territory, being a free agent for the first time in her career this offseason. With her making a life-changing decision, she needed some advice on what to do. That is when two future Hall of Fame NBA players gave her the guidance she needed to make her decision.
Candace Parker signs with the Chicago Sky
After 13 seasons playing for the Los Angeles Spark, Candace Parker will be suiting up for a new team. She will join the Chicago Sky, officially signing her contract with the team on Feb. 1. Parker averaged 14.7 points, 9.7 boards, 4.6 assists per game last season, showing she can still play at a high level.
Joining the Chicago Sky is a reunion of sorts for Parker. She is an Illinois native, growing up in Naperville. She was a star at Naperville Central High School, winning Ms. Basketball in Illinois three times. Playing for her hometown team gives her family and friends more chances to see her. Parker’s career is coming to a close at age 34, which played a part in her wanting to go home.
“Way more basketball behind me than I do in front of me. That’s just facts. But the basketball that’s in front of me, I wanted to play in Chicago,” said Parker per ESPN.
Dealing with the coronavirus, Pat Summit’s, and Kobe Bryant’s death helped put things in perspective for Parker. Those events allowed her to see how important family was and how being around family can make situations better. She is excited to be back home and looking forward to giving back to her community.
Chicago is where my family raised me; where I first learned the game of basketball, and where I first fell in love with this orange ball,” Parker said in a statement, per the Chicago Tribune. “I am excited to continue the next chapter of my career where it all began. To my new teammates, my new organization, and my new fans: I’m home,”
Candace Parker received free agent advice from two future Hall of Famers
Making a move of this magnitude can be challenging for athletes. In Parker’s instance, she’s been with the Sparks her entire career. She’s won a championship with them and has had countless memories. It’s great that she had two future Hall of Fame players who had similar free agency experiences to talk to.
Before she decided where she wanted to play, Candace Parker sought advice from NBA star Kevin Durant and retired NBA star Dwyane Wade. Durant has been a free agent twice in his career, most recently in 2019. Wade has also had his rounds in the free agent market, doing something similar to what Parker did. Wade also went home to Chicago, signing with the Bulls in 2016. Their words of advice made things simple for Parker and her free agency decision.
“The biggest thing I got from them was, ‘You need to follow your heart.’ So I think that’s what I ultimately did,” said Parker.
Having two future Hall of Fame players giving advice on free agency is a luxury Parker has. She and Wade have worked together on TNT’s Inside the NBA on numerous occasions. The suggestion was what she needed, as she followed her heart back to Chicago. Now she joins a team that can make a bunch of noise this season.
The Chicago Sky got exactly what they needed
Parker could be seen as the biggest winner with her coming to the Sky. She is back home, family and friends can watch her play, new contract, and more. However, the team she signed with are the big winners. The team got exactly what they needed in Candace Parker, making them one of the favorites to win the WNBA title.
Last season, the Sky finished 12-10 in the regular season after starting 10-3. They were bounced from the first round by the Connecticut Sun, a single-elimination game. The team’s head coach, James Wade, received feedback from his players needing a veteran presence on the team. They wanted someone who knew what it took to win a championship. That is when he made it his priority to go after Parker.
The Sky were a great offensive team, ranking in the top five offensively the past two seasons. Defensively, they have been one of the worst teams in the WNBA the last two years. Adding Candace Parker, who won Defensive Player of the Year last year, will help on that end of the floor. She averages 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals a game for her career. The starting lineup of Allie McQuigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Diamond DeShields, and Candace Parker has everyone in Chicago excited for what’s to come.