Candace Parker finalizing 1-year deal to return to reigning WNBA champion Aces

WNBA star Candace Parker is finalizing a one-year deal to return to the Las Vegas Aces, her agent Boris Lelchitski of SIG Sports confirmed to The Athletic on Wednesday.

News of Parker’s return to the two-time defending WNBA champions was first reported by Winsidr. Parker signed a one-year contract with the Aces last offseason and played 18 games for the franchise before suffering a foot fracture that required surgery and kept her sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Parker said in November that if she was healthy, she would return for a 17th year in the WNBA. “But I’m not gonna play in pain anymore,” she said in an interview with “Good Morning America.” “It’s too important — the trick-or-treating, the crossing over my kids, it’s too important. If I’m healthy I’m gonna play.”


Candace Parker says she won’t ‘play in pain anymore’

At the time of her foot procedure, Parker said the surgery was “the only option for me to be healthy again.” And although her season ended abruptly in July, the 6-foot-4 forward remained a key member of Las Vegas’ most recent title run. Star forward A’ja Wilson said during the WNBA Finals that Parker had “been really tapping into us,” talking with teammates on the sideline and when she was at practice.

“She’s always in my ear and I can appreciate that I never would have thought A’ja Wilson would even be teammates with Candace Parker,” Wilson said.

On a recent episode of “The Athletic Women’s Basketball Show,” coach Becky Hammon praised Parker’s presence within the franchise. “Her words have impact. How she says things, the way she handles herself, how she communicates with her teammates, has a large impact,” Hammon said. “Because of everything that she’s accomplished throughout her career, she’s become just that influential piece, not only in our locker room but in the world of women’s basketball, in NBA basketball. She’s got a voice.”

Parker became the first WNBA player to win a championship with three different teams this past October when the Aces topped the New York Liberty in four games. She averaged 9.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in nearly 24 minutes of action per game in her debut season with Las Vegas. Parker also improved the Aces’ defensive rating by 11.7 points per 100 possessions with her on the court, and is poised to make a similar impact on that end again this coming season.

While Las Vegas’ roster is largely unchanged from a season ago — it re-signed reserves Kiah Stokes and Sydney Colson, among other transactions — it also added center Megan Gustafson in free agency. Gustafson played in 34 games for the Phoenix Mercury last season, averaging career-highs of 7.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15 minutes per contest.

In winning last year’s championship, the Aces joined the Los Angeles Sparks (2001-02) and the Houston Comets (1997-2000) as the only teams in WNBA history to win consecutive titles. Only the Comets have won at least three in a row, though Las Vegas will look to take home a third consecutive championship this season.

“It’s unbelievable what these women have accomplished in such a short time,” Hammon said. “But we’re always going to be on to the next challenge.”

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(Photo: David Becker / NBAE via Getty Images)

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