Breanna Stewart has a message for the WNBA and Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. 

“Stop saying we’re a league of 144 (players),” the Storm star said. “It’s not true. Not anymore.  

“If you look around at how many teams have to carry 11 versus 12, it’s probably like high 130s or 140. But it’s certainly not 144. So we can’t keep talking like we have all these players when we don’t.” 

Stewart’s frustration stems from this week’s roster cuts around the WNBA in which a handful of high-profile veterans and rookies were released as team’s scramble to set their final roster before the league’s Thursday deadline. 

On Wednesday the Storm waived fourth-year forward Kennedy Burke, third-year guard Mikiah ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan and rookie guard Evina Westbrook. 

In the past week, the Storm waived rookies Elissa Cunane, Raina Perez, Jenna Giacone and Paisley Harding. 


“It’s tough,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said. “You look across the league and you see a lot of young talent not making teams or just interesting moves in general. It’s the nature of the business.  

“It’s about finding the team that complements each other and sometimes great players get weeded out of that mix not because they don’t belong or aren’t great. It’s because of the need or a contract or a situation. It’s been very tough. Our camp has been quality. Our players have worked hard and you never want to see players go.” 

Due to financial constraints, the Storm and several teams will start the season with 11 players, which is one fewer than the league limit. WNBA teams are required to have at least 11 players. 

None of the eight picks the Storm have made in the past three WNBA drafts have landed with the team.  

The Storm acquired Burke on a draft-day trade last year with the Indiana Fever in exchange for the No. 11 overall pick. She averaged 4.7 points and 1.4 rebounds as a backup while appearing in 15 games last season. 

The Storm added Herbert Harrigan last year in a deal that sent its 2022 first-round draft pick to the Minnesota Lynx. She appeared in one game with the Storm before sitting out the rest of the season because of pregnancy. 


Burke, who has been absent from training camp while playing in Spain, and Herbert Harrigan, who admittedly is still working herself into shape, were longshots to start the season with the Storm. 

Meanwhile, Cunane and Westbrook, who were both taken in the second-round of the draft three weeks ago were also long shots to latch on immediately with Seattle. 

Cunane became expendable when the Storm signed six-year veteran forward Reshanda Gray on Monday to bolster the front-line depth. 

Westbrook displayed an inspiring work ethic during training camp and had a strong outing in Seattle’s 82-78 preseason win at Phoenix while scoring 15 points and hitting the game-winning basket in the final seconds. 

“She was great for us,” Quinn said. “It was good to see her up close and personal because sometimes you don’t get to see things on film or when you watch games. To know she’s a worker and she’s a culture fit and her game fits. She came in here and worked her butt off. She did exactly what she was supposed to do.” 

The Storm’s opening-day roster includes: Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd, Mercedes Russell, Ezi Magbegor, Stephanie Talbot, Epiphanny Prince, Gabby Williams, Briann January, Jantel Lavender, Stewart and Gray. 


Stewart believes the WNBA needs to immediately protect players on their rookie contracts either through the implementation of a developmental league or easing the constraints of the league’s salary cap and allow teams to retain 1-2 players on a practice squad. 

Stewart also said the need for the WNBA to expand beyond its 12-team configuration is greater than ever. 

“The new CBA is like a blessing and a curse,” Stewart said. “Obviously, salaries are better. The way we’re treated is better, but we’re losing players. And we’re losing fans. 

“Going from the draft there’s so much buzz, then you look around and there’s not that many players from the draft transferring to the WNBA. We just need to do a better job of bridging the gap from college to the WNBA. Hey, Cathy get on it. This needs to change right now.” 

The WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2027 season and includes a mutual-opt out provision in 2026.