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WNBA free agent Azurá Stevens signs with Los Angeles

By DOUG FEINBERG , AP Basketball Writer

| Updated
FILE - Chicago Sky's Azura Stevens dribbles the ball during a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on July 20, 2022, in Chicago. Stevens is heading west, signing with the Los Angeles Sparks the team announced Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.
FILE - Chicago Sky's Azura Stevens dribbles the ball during a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm on July 20, 2022, in Chicago. Stevens is heading west, signing with the Los Angeles Sparks the team announced Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Azurá Stevens is heading west, signing with the Los Angeles Sparks, the team announced Friday.

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The 6-foot-6 free agent forward won a WNBA title with the Chicago Sky in 2021 and has averaged 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in her career.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the Los Angeles Sparks,” she said. “The plan that (general manager Karen Bryant and coach Curt Miller) are putting together for this team & organization is special and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. I can’t wait to get to LA (and) get to work!”

Stevens was drafted by Dallas in 2018 and she played 34 games in her first season, earning All-WNBA rookie team honors.

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“Azurá was our number one free agent target,” Bryant said. “She is already a WNBA champion and is just entering the prime of her career. We are thrilled that she chose the Sparks as her new team and LA as her new home.”

The Sparks already added Dearica Hamby in a trade with Las Vegas last month and Jasmine Thomas in a separate deal. Los Angeles also re-signed Lexie Brown.

Chicago now has lost Stevens, Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker to free agency, though the team did sign center Elizabeth Williams, who is a dominant defensive player.

“We are so excited to have Elizabeth in a Chicago Sky uniform,” Sky GM and coach James Wade said. “For as long as she’s been in the league, she’s been the epitome of a player that is a hard worker, a great leader and embodies the values of the WNBA.”

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Also on Friday, Seattle, which lost Breanna Stewart to New York as a free agent earlier this week, signed Sami Whitcomb and Kia Nurse.

“Kia is a talented, versatile guard and a proven impact player and competitor in our league,” Storm general manager Talisa Rhea said. “She brings valuable experience as a leader of Team Canada on the international stage, and we look forward to the positive impact she will have on our team here in Seattle.”

Nurse missed all of last season recovering from an ACL injury, but returned to lead Canada to the semifinals of the World Cup in September.

Other free-agent moves included Connecticut re-signing Natisha Heideman, and Indiana signing Maya Caldwell and Erica Wheeler.

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But there are big-name free agents still out there: Brittney Griner, who said she was returning to Phoenix; and Diana Taurasi, who also is expected to continue her career with the Mercury. Nneka Ogwumike and sister Chiney also are free agents and both are expected to go back to Los Angeles.

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By DOUG FEINBERG