CHICAGO – As it turns out, the beginning of 2023 WNBA free agency is the end of the greatest run so far in Chicago Sky history.

A team that was league champion 15 months ago and set a record for franchise wins last season has, for the most part, broken up. A number of key players are headed elsewhere with only a few returning to a team that looks to be in rebuilding mode, keeping with a recent trend of Chicago professional sports teams.

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Here are the key departures from the 2022 team, many of who made big contributions to the 2021 WNBA champion Sky team.

  • Candace Parker – Signed with the Las Vegas Aces after two All-Star seasons with the Sky after making her return home after starting her career with the Los Angeles Sparks for 13 seasons.
  • Courtney Vandersloot – Signed with the New York Liberty after 12 seasons after four All-Star appearances and six years leading the WNBA in assists with the Sky. She’s arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise.
  • Allie Quigley – The Joliet native, three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time league Sixth Woman of the Year will reportedly not play this season but is not retiring.
  • Azura Stevens – Signed with the Los Angeles Sparks after spending the last three years with the Sky. A starter in 2020, she was a key player off the bench the last two seasons and would have returned to a starting role in 2023.

Emma Meesseman, who was an All-Star for the Sky in 2022, still remains unsigned.

The departures signal the end of an era on a number of levels as general manager and head coach James Wade must construct what is essentially a new team around a few returners.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

That leaves two-time WNBA All-Star Kahleah Copper to lead what will be a new era of Chicago Sky basketball in 2023. Courtney Williams, a starter for the Sun last season, has joined the team in free agency and will take on a prominent role in Chicago.

Guard and Gary native Dana Evans, who is entering her third WNBA season, figures to take on an elevated role on the team as well.

On this edition of “9 Good Minutes” on WGN News Now, we talked about the end of an era and the start of a new one with Chris Pennant of The Skyhook Podcast. He gave his thoughts on those players leaving and what could be ahead in 2023 for the Sky.

You can watch his full conversation with Larry Hawley in the video above.