Nneka Ogwumike is headed to Seattle.
Ogwumike announced on social media on Monday afternoon that she was signing a deal to join the Seattle Storm. The deal, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, is for one season.
“Nneka is one of the most impactful players in the history of our league, not only her achievements on the court but also as an agent of positive change across the WNBA,” Storm general manager Talisa Rhea said in a statement. “I know Seattle and our community share our enthusiasm that Nneka is coming to the Storm.”
Ogwumike will join the Storm after they went just 11-29 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
“I’m stepping into this season of change with you, Seattle,” Ogwumike said in a statement. “With my teammates, coaches, staff, organization, ownership, and, most importantly, the fans. Every part of me is grateful and ready for this opportunity to continue to be great and sustain legacy. You can’t calm this Storm.”
Ogwumike, 33, finished sixth in MVP voting in 2023, averaging 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds. It was second only to her MVP season in 2016 when she averaged 19.6 points (third in the league), 9.1 rebounds (third) and 1.2 blocks (eighth) per game. The 6-foot-2 forward is an eight-time All-Star and earned second-team All-WNBA honors last year.
The unrestricted free agent announced last week she would not return to the only organization for which she's ever played. The Sparks drafted her No. 1 overall in 2012 and she won Rookie of the Year honors. She averaged 16.5 points and 8.8 rebounds over a 12-year career that included the 2016 WNBA championship and league MVP award.
It marked the official end of an era following the infamous 2019 postseason under head coach Derek Fisher.
Fisher, in his first year as a head coach, benched superstar forward Candace Parker in a must-win Game 3 of the semifinals. It was a baffling move that created palpable tension immediately. Two offseasons later in 2021, Parker and point guard Chelsea Gray both left in free agency. Parker won her third championship with the Chicago Sky that season. Gray won her second with the Las Vegas Aces in 2022, and they both won it with the Aces this past October.
Ogwumike's sister, former No. 1 overall pick Chiney Ogwumike, joined her in Los Angeles where they played sparingly together over the past two years because of Chiney's injuries. Nneka Ogwumike's exit opens up a complete rebuild for head coach Curt Miller, who took the LA job in 2022 after a successful stint with the Connecticut Sun. The Sparks fired Fisher 12 games into the season.
In the "Shattered Glass" documentary released on Wednesday, Ogwumike told her parents it had been a while since they were attending playoff games in October. The Sparks have not been to the postseason since 2020. It was the first time Ogwumike did not play in the playoffs over her career.
She played at an MVP level last season, but the race was dominated by Breanna Stewart, A'ja Wilson and Alyssa Thomas. Ogwumike is the president of the WNBA Players Association and helped shepherd in a new era with the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. Most notably, it increased max salaries by 82% in the first year and provided maternity protections. The players and the league can opt out of the CBA in November.