WNBA free agency opened at midnight and is already off to an interesting start as former Las Vegas Aces star and WNBA champion Dearica Hamby was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday, the league announced.
In the trade, the Aces acquired the rights to 6-foot-5 center Amanda Zahui B. from the Sparks. In addition, the Aces receive Los Angeles’ second-round pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, while the Sparks receive Las Vegas’ 2024 first-round pick.
Hamby was Las Vegas' longest-tenured player last season and is a two-time Sixth Player of the Year and All-Star forward. The 6-foot-3 forward helped the Aces win their first championship last season and announced her second pregnancy during the festivities. The 2023 season begins May 19, and the Sparks could place her on suspension to give her extra time, should she want it.
However, in an interview with Girls Talk Sports founder Khristina Williams, Hamby said her plan is to be back. "I’m due in March … will I be 100% by the start of the season? If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be back pretty close to the start of the season," she said.
On Jan. 15, she tweeted a message that seemed to express discontent with how she was being treated by her longtime team.
The eight-year veteran holds career averages of 9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists — but it's the intangibles that make Hamby most valuable. Last season, she entered Game 1 of the Finals against the Connecticut Sun to help the Aces, while still recovering from a knee injury. She immediately made an impact on both sides of the ball.
“Those minutes were big, and it was the intangibles, the hustles and the rebounds,” then-Suns head coach Curt Miller said after Game 1. “She runs the floor in transition. We've got mismatches. Nothing shows up in a stat sheet for her that way, but her effort creates mismatches right away in transition to their advantage.”
The Aces were the San Antonio Stars when Hamby was selected with the sixth overall pick of the 2015 WNBA Draft. She famously helped send Las Vegas on to the WNBA semifinals for the first time in a decade with the "The Hamby Heave" in 2019 — a steal and 35-foot shot late in the Aces' 2019 second-round playoff game against Chicago.
Zahui B. has career averages of 6.2 points, 4 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 197 career games with Tulsa, New York and Los Angeles. In her one season for the Sparks, she played in 30 games (27 starts), averaging 9.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1 assist in 23.8 minutes per game.
“Dearica has dedicated eight years of her career to this organization, and played a big role in our success since the team moved to Las Vegas,” Aces general manager Natalie Williams said in a release. “We’re going to miss her as a teammate, and are grateful for all of her contributions to the Aces over the years."