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Aces sign No. 1 target Chelsea Gray in free agency

The recruiting process began a year ago, even though the Aces knew they had no shot at then-restricted free agent Chelsea Gray.

But they wanted to establish a relationship, and it was that groundwork that enabled the Aces to land the three-time All-Star and unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Sparks.

“Chelsea became our No. 1 target,” general manager Dan Padover said Tuesday after the Aces signed Gray. Terms were not disclosed.

Gray, 28, probably will play point guard, but coach Bill Laimbeer said she is versatile to help in a number of ways.

That is spelled out in her statistics. The 5-foot-11-inch Gray averaged 14.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds over the past four seasons. She and the Phoenix Mercury’s Skyler Diggins-Smith are the only players to average at least 14 points and five assists over that span.

“After visiting Vegas and taking those meetings, it really left an imprint on my mind and my heart,” Gray said. “It’s like Bill said, it’s a big small town. Women are at the focal point of this city. I felt that when I was in Vegas.”

The Aces, who made the WNBA Finals last year before being swept by the Seattle Storm, have what Laimbeer called his best roster as he enters his fourth season.

Gray helped lead the Sparks to the championship in 2016 and was an All-Star each of the following three seasons.

Now Gray joins a roster expected to start three other players who have been All-Stars, including reigning MVP A’ja Wilson.

“A’ja Wilson obviously is our franchise player,” Laimbeer said. “It was important to put some experience around her as well as have a championship person. We don’t have any, except for coaches. This is a short- and a long-term acquisition.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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