Editor’s note: During a three-part series, we’re examining the Storm. On Tuesday, we took a look at what went wrong. On Wednesday, we looked at what went right. And today, we explore what’s ahead for Seattle.


Breanna Stewart wants to return to the Storm while Sue Bird is pondering retirement, and Jewell Loyd could potentially leave Seattle during what will be an uncertain offseason for a team with eight free agents. 

“It is a kind of crazy that I’m a free agent that’s for sure,” Stewart said. “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.” 

The other members of the Storm’s Big Three were far less committal on their return. 

“Offseasons have some highs and lows in terms of motivation, and it can be difficult,” Bird said. “That is daunting for me now from a mental standpoint and getting my body to where it needs to be to be ready for a WNBA season. It’s always difficult. And so there is a part of me I have to ask myself these questions: Do I want to do that again? Do I want to go there again? 

Loyd, who spoke glowingly about Seattle, the Storm and forging a long-term alliance with Stewart, stressed the need to separate from basketball for a little while and reflect on her career. 

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“I’m going to take this time to have a break,” Loyd said. “Talk with my family. Talk with Stewie and everyone else and figure out game plans and stuff like that. I’d like to take this time to take a break and re-evaluate where I’m at in my life and my career and go forward from there.” 

The Storm has just five players under contract for 2022, including forward Mikiah ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan who sat out this year and had a baby. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key roster, free agency and (retirement?) decisions facing the Storm ahead of 2022.

Sue Bird, guard

Age: 40 

Status: Unrestricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 18th season 

2021 stats: 10 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.3 apg, 43.1% FG, 41.9% 3FG 

Note: The oldest player in the WNBA who turns 41 next month isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Bird averaged more points, assists and minutes while committing fewer turnovers per game this year than last year season. At this stage in her career, Bird and the Storm mutually benefit if she continues to sign a one-year deal like she did in 2021.  

Offseason plans: Bird has not played overseas since 2014 and will remain stateside where she has several projects to keep her busy including Togethxr, a new media and commerce company for women she launched in July with Alex Morgan, Simone Manuel and Chloe Kim. 

Cierra Burdick, forward

Age: 28 

Status: Unrestricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 1st season 

2021 stats: 0.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 45.5% FG 

Note: Joined the team July 1 and signed two seven-day contracts before being added to the roster for the remainder of the season.

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Offseason plans: Burdick plans to play overseas but hasn’t signed with a team. 

Jordin Canada, guard

Age: 26 

Status: Unrestricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 4th season 

2021 stats: 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 38.9% FG, 21.4 3FG 

Note: This was supposed to be a breakout year for the fourth-year veteran ahead of a big free agent payday. But, Canada appeared to regress this season. She averaged career lows in assists and steals while her scoring and minutes were the fewest since her rookie year. There could be fewer suitors for Canada, and there’s a strong chance she returns to the Storm on a favorable contract. 

Offseason plans: Canada will remain in the U.S. at least until January. 

Jewell Loyd, guard

Age: 27 

Status: Unrestricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 7th season 

2021 stats: 17.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 42.1% FG, 37.6% 3FG 

Note: Given her age and accomplishments, the two-time WNBA All-Star guard is one of the biggest free agents on the market, which is probably why she didn’t explicitly rule out the possibility of leaving Seattle during a Zoom interview Monday. Re-signing Loyd, who is one of four current players under 6 feet with multiple 35-point games and arguably the WNBA’s best shooting guard, is a top priority if Seattle wants to remain a championship contender. 

Offseason plans: Loyd is returning to her home in Lincolnwood, Illinois, near Chicago. 

Mercedes Russell, center

Age: 26 

Status: Restricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 4th season 

2021 stats: 7.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 24.4 mpg, 61.7% FG 

Note: The negotiations with Russell could get very interesting. She’s going to get a considerable raise from the $70,040 she made this season. Before the 2021 season, the Storm traded RFAs Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to New York, which doubled their salaries. Russell, who has proved to be invaluable playing alongside Stewart as a big-bodied post player, will likely command a two-year deal similar to Chicago Sky’s Stefanie Dolson, who earned $175,000 in 2021. 

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Offseason plans: Russell will not play overseas for the first time since turning pro and plans to return home to Springfield, Oregon.

Breanna Stewart, forward

Age: 27 

Status: Unrestricted free agent 

Storm tenure: 5th season 

Stats: 20.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7, bpg, 1.2 spg, 33.3 mpg 

Note: Stewart averaged more points, rebounds and blocks this year than last season and appeared poised to lead the Storm to a deep playoff run before suffering a season-ending left foot injury and missing the final three games, including a postseason loss in the second round. Stewart, 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones and 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson are the biggest stars who are impending free agents. Stewart has expressed a desire to return to Seattle and now the Storm will have to surround her with affordable, complementary players. 

Offseason plans: Stewart plans to recover from a left foot injury before taking her family (wife Marta Xaragay Casademont and baby daughter, Ruby) to Russia to play for UMMC Ekateringburg.