Breanna Stewart will return to Liberty with core designation, GM says

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Breanna Stewart #30 of the New York Liberty dribbles during the second half against the Connecticut Sun during Game Two of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs semifinals at Barclays Center on September 26, 2023 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Liberty won 84-77. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Breanna Stewart announced she was joining the New York Liberty and propelled the team into title contention this offseason. After falling just short of the goal in a close loss to the Las Vegas Aces, it appears the 29-year-old is set to run it back next year.

“Stewie will 100% be cored. She will not be an unrestricted free agent,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb told reporters during the team’s exit interviews Friday.

Coring is similar to the NFL’s franchise tag. Organizations are granted one a year, allowing them to designate a veteran free agent to only negotiate and sign with them during the free agency period at the beginning of the calendar year. The core qualifying offer is a fully guaranteed one-year deal worth the league supermax, which was $234,936 in 2023.

After an impressive regular season that earned her the WNBA MVP crown in a tight race with Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas and Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, Stewart struggled with the title on the line.

She scored 10 points on 3-17 field goal attempts during Wednesday’s 70-69 Game 4 loss to the Aces. She was able to contribute in other ways, recording 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 38 minutes,

Stewart’s return to the Liberty on a core designation was the expected outcome, as her January addition to the team came during a flurry of moves. Her announcement was quickly followed by the news of former Chicago Sky star Courtney Vandersloot’s signing. The team also traded for 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones a month prior.

Now, Stewart’s one-year deal will turn into a supermax contract in New York — which she also had with the Seattle Storm last season.

“It’s my first time being cored. Not surprising. I’m excited for what we’re doing here in New York and with the Liberty,” she said Friday. “I’m looking forward to it for many years to come.”

Leading into the finals, Stewart gave The Athletic an “almost guarantee” that she would be cored, saying that she was “happy in New York.” Jones, also positioned for unrestricted free agency, said she hadn’t thought much about it.

The former Sun forward averaged 11.3 points and 8.4 rebounds this season. Her 1.8 assists and 0.6 steals per game are tied for first in the league.

She wasn’t a candidate to be cored because she’s already played two seasons on a core contract.

On Friday, Jones said she’s “definitely trending towards” returning to the Liberty.

Leave a Comment