HARTFORD, Conn. — After falling just short in the WNBA Finals last summer, the Connecticut Sun are pushing their chips forward.
The team announced Tuesday it has acquired three-time WNBA All-Star DeWanna Bonner in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Mercury. In return, the Sun gave up three first-round picks: two in 2020 and one in 2021.
"DeWanna Bonner was one of the most coveted free agents out there this season," Sun head coach Curt Miller said on a conference call. "To have her join the Sun, it's an exciting day for us. Her versatility makes her special. She has thrived not only at the three positions in our league, but has also played the four in recent years. Her versatility is very, very unique in the direction that our game is certainly headed. To add a versatile, established player in our league to our roster was something that was very intriguing."
Bonner averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season, earning her third All-Star appearance in four seasons. The 10-year veteran out of Auburn won three Sixth Woman of the Year awards early in her career and was named to the All-WNBA and All-Defensive teams in 2015. The Mercury reached the playoffs in all but one of Bonner's seasons with the team and won WNBA titles in 2009 and 2014.
"Never easy to give up draft picks, but we looked at it as, we're in a window right now with an outstanding roster right now where we felt like adding another established, talented piece was very, very important to us," Miller said. "We made the decision to not try and break up the core, and the way to do that was to include draft picks instead of necessarily players."
The Sun's acquisition of Bonner comes one day after the team re-signed center Jonquel Jones, who was named All-WNBA last season. Those two, along with forward Alyssa Thomas and guard Jasmine Thomas, will form one of the league's best cores, positioning Connecticut as an early championship favorite.
"I'm excited to play with this talented group and do whatever I can to help this organization hang its first championship banner," Bonner said in a statement. "Nothing is more important to me than winning."
Though Bonner will almost certainly be the Sun's most significant acquisition this offseason, the team still has questions to address. Incumbent starters Shekinna Stricklen and Courtney Williams remain free agents, and Miller must replace reserves Morgan Tuck and Layshia Clarendon, both of whom signed elsewhere Monday.
Miller said that discussions are continuing with Stricklen and Williams, and that that there is still a "lot of opportunity" for the team from a financial standpoint. He did later note that because of the way the new collective bargaining agreement is set up, players in the median salary range could become unintended victims.
"It's going to take three or four years for this new CBA to phase its way in," Miller said. "And to figure out where all these salaries end up … I think it's going to take some years for it to really even out what this looks like. There are different ways to build; some teams are going to put together incredible starting lineups and their benches be younger, were there's going to be other teams around the league more balanced and they have better depth, but may not on paper have quite as good a starting lineup."
The Sun went 23-11 last season and reached the WNBA Finals before losing to the Washington Mystics in five games. The team's 2020 season will begin May 16 against the Liberty at Mohegan Sun Arena.
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