The commencement of the 2024 WNBA free agency period marks the beginning of an intriguing offseason, where teams can now engage in negotiations with players. While official signings are slated to begin on Feb. 1, the anticipation for potential moves and player dynamics is already building. The recent collective bargaining agreement in 2020 has elevated the significance of free agency in the league, transforming it into a pivotal aspect of the WNBA calendar.
This year’s free agency pool features notable stars, including five former MVPs: Breanna Stewart (2018, 2023), Jonquel Jones (2021), Elena Delle Donne (2015, 2019), Nneka Ogwumike (2016), and Candace Parker (2008, 2013). Additionally, players such as Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner, and Satou Sabally contribute to the wealth of talent potentially in motion.
The league is poised for a transformative winter, with numerous storylines and player movements expected. To guide fans through the anticipation, here’s a comprehensive overview of key details:
1. Start of Free Agency:
- Teams can initiate discussions with free agents from Jan. 21, but official signings are restricted until Feb. 1. Violations of these rules may result in penalties under the league’s tampering regulations, emphasizing the significance of adhering to the prescribed timeline.
2. Free Agency Mechanics:
- WNBA free agency closely mirrors the NBA model. It encompasses a moratorium period for discussions before formal signings commence. Players fall into distinct classifications, primarily unrestricted free agents, with the freedom to engage with any team, and restricted free agents, who can receive offers from other teams, subject to their prior team’s right to match.
- The reserved category pertains to players with less than three years of service, granting their prior team exclusive negotiation rights. In cases where contracts expire during suspensions, players are treated akin to reserved players, without the obligation for a qualifying offer.
- The core designation, analogous to the NFL’s franchise tag, grants a team exclusive negotiating rights with a player, even if they were initially unrestricted free agents. Prudent use of the core designation is crucial, considering players can only be “cored” twice in their career as of 2024.
As the 2024 WNBA Free Agency landscape unfolds, the potential signing of Alanna Smith to a two-year deal with the Lynx adds an early spark to the offseason narrative. Stay tuned for more developments and player movements shaping the league’s dynamics.