Breanna Stewart is reportedly returning to the Storm.
The three-time WNBA All-Star forward will sign a one-year supermax deal with Seattle for $228,094, according to Yahoo Sports.
After weeks of recruiting, roster building and deal making, WNBA teams can announce deals Tuesday.
Monday night’s report of Seattle re-signing Stewart appears to put an end to weeks of speculation about her future.
The two-time WNBA Finals MVP reportedly met with New York Liberty owners Joe and Clara Tsai and new head coach Sandy Brondello two weeks ago, which sent Storm fans into a panic about possibly losing the 27-year-old unrestricted free agent who delivered WNBA championships to Seattle in 2018 and 2020.
The Storm’s No. 1 offseason priority was retaining the 2016 WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick who has averaged 20.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals in five seasons.
Stewart, who sat out in 2019 due to a right Achilles injury, had offseason surgery on her left Achilles. She missed five games last season, including Seattle’s season-ending playoff loss to the Phoenix Mercury.
The Storm, who finished 21-11, weres 20-8 with Stewart in the lineup. She averaged 20.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals and led Seattle to an inaugural Commissioner’s Cup title while winning the Cup MVP.
“It is a kind of crazy that I’m a free agent that’s for sure,” Stewart said in September. “But Seattle has always been my home. It’s where I’ve grown up. It’s where my career has continued to blossom. I plan on being back unless something crazy happens. We have more things to do here.”
However, the one-year deal suggests Stewart isn’t investing long term in the Storm. That could have something to do with the team’s ability to retain its Big Three, particularly with Sue Bird’s impending retirement.
The Storm will likely have its 41-year-old star for another year. Bird said she’s returning for her 19th season via Instagram and Seattle tweeted the announcement, which reportedly resulted in an undisclosed tampering fine by the WNBA.
Seattle also placed the core designation on three-time WNBA All-Star guard Jewell Loyd, which removed her from the free-agent market and gives the team exclusive negotiating rights on a possible long-term deal.
Meanwhile, the Storm are reportedly nearing a multiyear deal to bring back fourth-year center Mercedes Russell and are expected to add Connecticut Sun veteran guard Briann January.
General manager Talisa Rhea and coach Noelle Quinn still have many spots to fill on a roster that currently includes just five players with nonguaranteed contracts, including starting forward Katie Lou Samuelson.
Backups Ezi Magbegor, Kennedy Burke, Epiphanny Prince and Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan, who played in just one game last season and is returning from a pregnancy leave, are on the Seattle roster.
The 2022 WNBA salary cap is $1,379,200 and the Storm began free agency with $986,236 in cap room. Seattle extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Jordin Canada and Stephanie Talbot.
On Sunday, the website Winsidr tweeted that the Storm are bringing back Russell, a restricted free agent, who averaged 7.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 24.4 minutes while starting 28 of 30 games last year.
Elsewhere around the WNBA, league MVP Jonquel Jones is returning to the Connecticut Sun and the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky are retaining 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Cooper.
Five-time WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry is expected to leave the Las Vegas Aces and join the Minnesota Lynx.
The deals will become official Tuesday on what many expect to be a dynamic day in free agency that will reshape the league.