Liberty’s superteam, title-contending offer couldn’t land Nneka Ogwumike


The Liberty found a way to keep their superteam intact this offseason, but they failed to add to it by landing Nneka Ogwumike.

Ogwumike, who left the Sparks after 12 years, was pursued by the Liberty and even attended a Nets-Suns game with Breanna Stewart and Betnijah Laney-Hamiltion on Jan. 31, but one week later, she opted to ink a deal with the Storm over the Liberty — as well as the Phoenix Mercury, Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky, according to the Seattle Times — and become a focal point of their roster instead.

The Storm have started 1-3 after their 74-63 loss to the Liberty on Monday at Barclays Center, and Ogwumike has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.

But at some point, perhaps later in the season, the Liberty will get another glimpse at the eight-time All-Star they couldn’t land.

Nneka Ogwumike drives to the basket past Minnesota Lynx forward Alanna Smith on May 14, 2024. AP

“Yes and no,” Stewart said pregame, when asked if she was disappointed about Ogwumike not selecting the Liberty. “I think with that, it was like obviously, we would be lucky to have Nneka — understanding our starting five was coming back and the way that that kind of went.

“But she’s an MVP, a top talent in this league, and she’s going to do great things with Seattle.”

Jonquel Jones ended up signing a two-year deal — with a $190,000 cap hit this year, per Spotrac — to remain with the Liberty 11 days after Ogwumike’s decision to take a one-year, $204,500 deal with the Storm.

That allowed the Liberty to return their starters from 2023, with Kayla Thornton and Nyara Sabally the two forwards off the bench.

Ogwumike joined Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd as a trio of stars tasked with helping the Storm recover after an 11-29 campaign that resulted in their first missed postseason since 2015.

“I think the three of them together,” Stewart said, “it’s gonna be really exciting.”

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