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Aces signing 2-time former WNBA MVP to bolster title defense

Updated January 30, 2023 - 8:23 pm

Candace Parker, a two-time WNBA MVP and two-time WNBA champion, announced Saturday that she will sign with the Aces in free agency.

“After evaluating the landscape together with my family,” Parker wrote on her Instagram account, “we’ve decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right organization for us at this point in our lives.”

Parker will sign a one-year contract with the team, a source with knowledge of the deal told the Review-Journal.

Parker arrives in Las Vegas with one of the most distinguished resumes in women’s basketball history. She won two NCAA titles with Tennessee, where she played for legendary coach Pat Summitt, and was an Olympic gold medalist with Team USA in 2008 and 2012.

A 15-year veteran, Parker won WNBA rookie of the year and league MVP in 2008 after debuting for the Los Angeles Sparks, was WNBA defensive player of the year in 2020 and has earned seven first-team all-WNBA selections. Parker has also led the league in rebounding three times and was named to the league’s 20th and 25th anniversary teams.

The 36-year-old forward won her second MVP award in 2013, averaging 17.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Parker won her first WNBA championship with the Sparks in 2016 with current Aces point guard Chelsea Gray. Parker was named WNBA Finals MVP as the Sparks upset the Minnesota Lynx, who were seeking their fourth title in six seasons.

Parker left Los Angeles after 13 years to sign with the Chicago Sky, her hometown team, in 2021. The seven-time All-Star was only able to lead Chicago to a 16-16 record and the No. 6 seed, but the Sky stormed through the playoffs to capture Parker’s second WNBA championship, defeating the Phoenix Mercury in the finals.

Last season, Parker averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky, who lost to the Connecticut Sun 3-2 in the semifinals. She again earned an All-Star nod and first-team all-WNBA honors.

“I’m forever appreciative of everyone in Chicago — our fans, teammates, coaches and ownership,” Parker wrote. “But more than the past two seasons, I’m thankful to the city that raised me, the childhood friends I still have to this day, the teachers I’m still learning from and the moments in time that will forever be in my heart.”

In Las Vegas, Parker joins reigning MVP and defensive player of the year A’ja Wilson; Gray, the 2022 WNBA Finals MVP; first-team all-WNBA guard Kelsey Plum; 2022 WNBA All-Star Jackie Young; and 2022 coach of the year Becky Hammon.

The Aces were able to clear the cap space to sign Parker after their controversial trade of pregnant All-Star Dearica Hamby to the Sparks on Jan. 21.

In her message on social media, Parker said she made the decision to sign with the Aces partially to compete for championships, but also because her family wanted to move back to the West Coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us,” Parker wrote. “I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamshita on Twitter.

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