Four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird has agreed to re-sign with the Storm, according to a report by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
Bird, an unrestricted free agent and the league’s oldest player at 40, is returning for her 18th season with the franchise that selected her No. 1 overall in the 2002 WNBA draft.
For years Bird has said she intends to finish a Hall of Fame career in Seattle, but has been uncertain about when she’s ready to retire.
“Look, I’m not trying to be coy or dodge the question or anything like that, but it’s been the same routine with me for some time,” Bird said last October. “I’ll do what I’ve always done. I’ll have to see how my body is feeling. Right now, I feel fine.
“And if everything is fine, then I see no reason why anything would change. But you just can’t know that now and you have to cross the bridge when you get there.”
Bird has expressed a desire to play in this year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, which were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the hopes of becoming the first women’s basketball player to win five gold medals.
Last season, Bird returned from a year layoff due to arthroscopic left knee surgery and averaged a career-low 9.8 points, 5.2 assists and 23.4 minutes, which was also the fewest in her career.
“It was probably the most challenging season I’ve ever had just because of being in and out of the lineup,” said Bird, who played 11 of the abbreviated 22-game season due to multiple injuries. “It was difficult to get into a routine and develop any flow. … I’m just glad we found that in the playoffs.”
Bird led the Storm to a flawless 6-0 record during the postseason, which included sweeps against Minnesota in the semifinals and Las Vegas in the WNBA Finals.
Bird, the league’s all-time assists leader, set a WNBA Finals record with 33 assists and tallied a league playoff record with 16 during Game 1.
The Storm prioritized re-signing Bird and bringing back WNBA All-Star Natasha Howard, who was designated a core player.
Seattle lost nine-year veteran forward Alysha Clark, an unrestricted free agent, who is signing with the Washington Mystics.
The WNBA free-agency market opened Jan. 15, but teams are not officially allowed to sign players until Monday.