Sue Bird’s retirement pushes the Storm to their most important juncture in franchise history since dismantling a championship-contending team nearly a decade ago after Hall of Famer Lauren Jackson ended her WNBA career in 2012.

For years, Seattle stumbled and staggered without a winning season before bottoming out in 2014 at 12-22 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick and Jewell Loyd.

After another dismal finish in 2015, the Storm garnered the first pick in the 2016 WNBA draft once again, which resulted in Breanna Stewart.

And the rest is history as in two WNBA championships (2018 and 2020) and a recent five-year run in which Seattle has a 105-53 record — the best winning percentage (. 666) in the league during that span.

Storm general manager Talisa Rhea knows she has a big task ahead of her this offseason considering just two players are under contract. However, she believes Seattle, which finished fourth in the WNBA at 22-14, can remain in championship contention next season.

“I wasn’t here for that rebuild so I can’t really relate it to that,” Rhea said. “What I would say in this moment, do we feel like we’re going into a rebuild? No. I think our goal is to try to keep our core together and try to build on it. I think every year we can get better. Obviously, we have a lot of free agents this year and some very important pieces. We’ll go through that process. Putting together a competitive roster that’s going to try to compete is going to be our goal.”


The Storm’s top offseason priority is securing Stewart, the MVP runner-up who is an unrestricted free agent for the second consecutive year.

Coach Noelle Quinn plans to lean on Seattle’s goodwill and relationship with its four-time WNBA All-Star during its recruiting pitch.

“Just knowing the trust that she has with me and for her to understand where I will be for her and the trust that I have in her,” Quinn said. “We will continue to put great players around her. Be positive with her and knowing that whatever happens, happens. She’s the best and she should be the best here in Seattle.”

The 2023 WNBA salary cap is $1.4 million and the Storm will begin the offseason with $1,025,564 in cap space, according to Her Hoops Stats.

Before the 2022 season, Seattle designated Loyd its core player and secured her with a two-year deal that’s worth $234,936 in 2023.

Mercedes Russell is the only other player under contract at $160,000.

Meanwhile, the Storm have exclusive negotiation rights with third-year center Ezi Magbegor and can match any offer to retain restricted free agent Gabby Williams.


Here’s a breakdown of the Storm roster.


2022 stats: 7.8 ppg., 6.0 apg., 1.9 rpg., 40.3% FG, 38.9% 3FG, 100% FT

2023 status: Retired

Note: Her scoring dipped to a career low, but Bird, the league’s oldest player who turns 42 next month, was still a remarkably efficient playmaker (she ranked 6th in assists) and clutch shooter (see Game 4 of the semifinals).

What’s next: Bird is an investor in NJ/NY Gotham FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, co-owner of the women’s sports media brand TOGETHXR and is a member of the board of directors for USA Basketball. She’s also launching an ESPN show called Sue’s Places, which explores college basketball.


2022 stats: 21.8 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 2.9 apg., 1.6 spg., 0.9 bpg., 47.2% FG, 37.9% 3FG, 83.7% FT

2023 status: Unrestricted free agent

Note: Stewart was sensational while putting together the second-best season of her career that ranks just behind her 2018 season. Following off-season Achilles surgery, she returned and made 34 starts while missing just two games due to COVID.

What’s next: Heading to Sydney, Australia, with the USA national team to compete in the FIBA Women’s Basketball Word Cup. Stewart is also playing for the Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce Safiport.


2022 stats: 16.3 ppg., 2.6 rpg., 3.4 apg., 1.1 spg., 39.6% FG, 38.5% 3FG, 89.3% FT

2023 status: Designated core player with maximum salary of $234,936

Note: Despite a career-low field-goal percentage, the four-time WNBA All-Star is firmly established as one of the league’s top guards and late-game closers.

What’s next: Will also play for Team USA in FIBA World Cup before heading home to Lincolnwood, Illinois, to spend the offseason with family and friends.



2022 stats: 7.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 3.1 apg., 1.5 spg., 44.4% FG, 25.7% 3FG, 77.8% FT

2023 status: Restricted free agent.

Note: Earned WNBA All-Defensive second-team recognition, which was the first postseason honor for the fourth-year veteran. Williams has an uncanny ability to impact a game in a variety of ways. She’s become a natural fit alongside Stewart and Loyd, but it’s uncertain if she’ll return to the WNBA next season.

What’s next: Will play for France’s national team at the FIBA World Cup. Also signed with French basketball juggernaut ASVEL.


2022 stats: 12.6 ppg., 7.4 rpg., 0.7 spg., 0.6 bpg, 47.7% FG, 34.1% 3FG, 88.5% FT

2023 status: Unrestricted free agent

Note: It took Charles and the Storm some time to get in sync after she joined the team in late June. She had 24 games with Seattle, including the playoffs, which explains the inconsistent production from a 33-year-old future Hall of Famer just one year removed from leading the WNBA in scoring in 2021.

What’s next: Hasn’t played overseas since 2018.


2022 stats: 9.6 ppg., 5.6 rpg., 1.4 apg., 1.8 bpg., 0.9 spg., 55.0% FG, 34.5% 3FG, 73.6%

2023 status: Reserve player who can only negotiate with the Storm

Note: A bit of a breakout season for the 23-year-old Australian center who started 23 of 33 games. She was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate before moving to the bench after Charles’ arrival. Undoubtedly, Seattle will bring back Magbegor, who figures into their long-term plans.

What’s next: Returning to Australia to play in FIBA World Cup for the Opals. Will also play in Europe for the first time for the Hungarian team Sopron.


2022 stats: 5.0 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 1.3 apg., 0.7 spg., 46.4% FG, 39.7% 3FG, 58.3% FT

2023 status: Unrestricted free agent

Note: Talbot was the most consistent bench contributor for the Storm. She played a key role in the Game 1 semifinal win while starting for Williams. Talbot conceivably is in line for a significant pay increase from her $72,141 salary.


What’s next: The Aussie native is also playing for the Opals in the FIBA World Cup. Afterward, Talbot will rejoin Adelaide Lightening for the ninth season and will serve as club captain.


2022 stats: 3.7 ppg., 1.0 rpg., 2.4 rpg., 0.6 spg., 37.7% FG, 31.1% 3FG, 82.6% FT

2023 status: Retired

Note: January made her biggest impact early in the season while starting for Bird and scoring in double figures in consecutive games. She also averaged 10 points in the final two regular-season games.

What’s next: Was going to retire when the Storm were eliminated, but will play for Cukurova in Mersin, Turkey, before calling it quits on a 14-year basketball career. Plans to pursue a coaching career.


2022 stats: 3.9 ppg., 1.0 rpg., 1.8 apg., 0.6 spg., 35.5% FG, 35.6% 3FG, 84.0% FT

2023 status: Unrestricted free agent.

Note: In her previous two seasons with the Storm, the 34-year-old guard flourished in her role as an offensive threat off the bench. But this year she tallied career lows in scoring and field-goal percentage.

What’s next: It remains to be seen if Prince will return to the WNBA next season. She was also unsure if she would continue playing overseas during the WNBA offseason as she has since 2009.


2022 stats: 3.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 0.9 apg., 40.9% FG, 20.8% 3FG, 66.7% FT

2023 status: Unrestricted free agent.

Note: Helped the Storm to a pair of wins while averaging 10 ppg. and 9.5 rpg. during two starts in late May. Otherwise, the 12th-year center made her biggest contribution off the floor providing veteran leadership.


What’s next: Will play for the Turkish team Emlak Konut during the WNBA offseason. Lavender, who turns 34 in November, was unsure if she’ll return to the WNBA next year if she can’t find a more productive role than the one she had this year.


2022 stats: 2.0 ppg., 1.8 rpg., 50.0% FG, 66.7% FT

2023 status: Under contract at $160,000

Note: Played in just five games due to a recurrent headache syndrome. The 27-year-old Russell, a 6-foot-6 and 195-pound center, is Seattle’s most imposing presence in the paint. She averaged 7.3 points and 6.8 rebounds while starting 28 games in 2021 to secure a three-year deal that runs through 2024.

What’s next: Russell has no plans to play overseas or domestically during the WNBA offseason. When asked about her plans, she said: “Getting back to normal life. Working my way back into shape. There’s no other story or plan to it.”