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By DOUG FEINBERG
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Liberty have traded for Jonquel Jones, adding a big piece to their championship hopes.
The Liberty acquired the 2021 MVP as part of a three-team deal with the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings, the teams announced Monday.
Connecticut received the No. 6 pick in the draft as well as Rebecca Allen from New York and Tyasha Harris from Dallas. The Wings got Natasha Howard and Crystal Dangerfield from the Liberty. Kayla Thornton heads to New York also.
"Adding Jonquel and Kayla to our roster in the prime of their careers was a can't-miss opportunity to bolster our frontcourt on both ends of the floor," said Liberty GM Jonathan Kolb. "JJ brings an established MVP skillset, and Kayla possesses a rare combination of defensive physicality and offensive spacing. We can't wait to welcome them to the Liberty family and get to work on pursuing our championship goals."
Jones had one year left on her contract with the Sun. The 6-foot-6 All-Star averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season to help Connecticut reach the WNBA Finals for the second time in four seasons.
"To say I'm excited would be a huge understatement!," Jones said. "To the fans, future teammates and everyone that has welcomed me to New York thank you! I can't wait to get this season going and show out in the Big Apple!!"
The 29-year-old Jones, who is from the Bahamas, would bolster a young New York squad, led by Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, that has lost in the opening round of the playoffs the past two years. She was the No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft and was the league's Most Improved Player in 2017. The next season she earned the Sixth Woman of the Year award before garnering the MVP three years later.
"Jonquel has been an integral part of the Connecticut Sun's growth over the last seven years, and we truly appreciate everything she has given to this franchise," Connecticut GM Darius Taylor said. "Ultimately, JJ's trade was a decision that both parties decided was best."
Allen had played her entire seven-year career in New York. The 30-year-old Australian made her WNBA debut in 2015. She was the longest-tenured player on the Liberty roster.
"Bec made a lasting impact on the Liberty organization throughout her seven years here," said Kolb. "She has been with this franchise through ups, downs, relocations, and transitions, yet her professionalism and effort never wavered. We wish her the absolute best in her next chapter with Connecticut where she will undoubtedly flourish in an expanded role."
Howard played two seasons in New York after the Liberty traded for her in 2021. She averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds last season.
"Natasha is a three-time WNBA champion who joins the Wings organization with an impressive WNBA resume, including both extensive and successful playoff experience," Wings President & CEO Greg Bibb said. "On the court we are adding an all-star caliber player who is one of the premier defenders in the game. Off the court we are adding a veteran who has won on the biggest stage in the biggest moments. Rarely can you address as many needs in one transaction as we do with the addition of Natasha. We are excited to have her join our organization."
Dangerfield, who was the Rookie of the Year in 2020 for Minnesota, will be playing on her fifth different team. She averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 assists for New York last season, starting 27 of the 30 games she played in.
Thornton averaged 8.0 points and 5.9 rebounds for Dallas last season while starting 35 of the 36 games.
Harris has averaged 5.2 points for Dallas during her three-year career. She started 11 games since being drafted seventh in 2020.
AP women's basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated January 16, 2023