After weeks of negotiations and speculation that a deal wouldn’t get done, the Storm signed Breanna Stewart to a one-year supermax contract worth $228,094, which silenced — for now — talks about her immediate future.
However, the team’s inability to contractually secure the two-time WNBA Finals MVP beyond 2022 will generate months of discussion around the league and legitimate concern from Storm fans about the upcoming season possibly being her last in Seattle.
Of course, Stewart and the Storm didn’t address any of that Wednesday.
“I’m excited to be back with my team to fight for another championship and to play at Climate Pledge Arena,” Stewart said in a statement released by the team. “We have unfinished business and we’re all ready to get to work.”
Perhaps “unfinished business” will become the motto for the Storm, which finished 21-11 last season and lost 85-80 to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the WNBA playoffs with Stewart on the sidelines due to a left Achilles tendon injury that required offseason surgery.
With a healthy Stewart, the Storm were 20-8 and had the best record in the WNBA at 16-5 at the Olympic break with 11 games left.
However, Stewart missed two regular-season games to rest and two more because of the Achilles injury while Seattle posted a 5-6 record down the stretch. The late-season slide and Stewart’s postseason absence doomed any chance of a second straight league title for the 2020 WNBA champions.
Stewart began the “unfinished business” talk shortly after the season and expressed a strong desire to return to Seattle, but her future with the Storm came into question when Seattle placed its core designation on Jewell Loyd and left Stewart on the free agent market.
The 27-year-old Syracuse, N.Y. native who starred with the Connecticut Huskies reportedly had a meeting with New York Liberty owners and coaching staff.
Maybe Stewart will decide to return home next year when she’s an unrestricted free agent again.
But for now, the Storm remain a title contender with the three-time WNBA All-Star who averaged 20.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals last season.
“Stewie is the best player in the world and having her on our team means we will always be in the mix to compete for another championship,” coach Noelle Quinn said. “She takes great pride in her preparation, elevates everyone’s level of play and most important just wants to win.”
Seattle has nine players under contract, not including 12-time WNBA All-Star point guard Sue Bird, who is expected to return. The Storm has also extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Jordin Canada and Stephanie Talbot.