On the first day WNBA free agent deals can be finalized, it’s becoming abundantly clear why two-time WNBA champion Alysha Clark ended a nine-year tenure with the Storm and joined with rival Washington Mystics.
Clark, an unrestricted free agent who earned $84,100 last season, signed a two-year guaranteed deal worth $366,000, which more than doubles her annual salary, according to HerHoopStats.com.
It’s a belated windfall for the 33-year-old veteran who enters her 10th season after breaking into the league in 2012 as a Storm training camp invite.
Meanwhile, the defending WNBA champion Storm, which is reportedly expected to re-sign 11-time All-Star Sue Bird, announced it’s bringing back reserve guard Epiphanny Prince.
“We are excited to have Piph back,” coach Dan Hughes said in a team statement on Monday. “She has established herself as an exciting, effective, versatile player over her WNBA career and had an immediate impact with us last year.”
In her first season in Seattle, the 11-year veteran averaged 4.3 points and 12.7 minutes in 15 regular-season games. During the playoffs, she averaged 5.0 points, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals while helping the Storm to its fourth league title.
“I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to return to play for the Storm,” said Prince, who is playing for the Galatasaray in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League and averaging 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in EuroLeague games.
Prince, who signed a one-year deal that paid her $68,000 last year, inked a two-year contract worth $230,000, according to HerHoopStats.com. Her $115,000 salary each season is not guaranteed.
The Storm currently has nine players under contract, not including WNBA All-Star forward Natasha Howard, who was designated a core player, which gives Seattle exclusive negotiating powers.
Bird is also expected re-sign with the Storm and will likely command a supermax deal worth $221,450 next season.
Heading into free agency, which began Jan. 15, the Storm had roughly $544,000 to fill out the roster.
Seattle could free up cap space if it released veteran center Crystal Langhorne, who is in the last year of a non-guaranteed deal worth $105,000 next season.
It remains to be seen if the Storm will be able to retain reserve sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb, who is the top shooting guard remaining on the market, according to ESPN.
Like Clark, the 32-year-old Whitcomb has played her entire career in Seattle and is a coveted restricted free agent, who could potentially double her $68,000 salary she earned last season.