NEW YORK (AP) — After spending her entire career in Connecticut, Jonquel Jones was ready for a change.
So she looked around and decided that New York would be the right place for her to continue her WNBA career.
“I’m excited to be here. pleasure to be part of this organization,” Jones said. “For me playing against the Liberty last year I saw a shift in the culture. The way they played, high-octane basketball. For me I wanted to be a part of that. To be in a city like New York, it speaks for itself. Felt like the right move. I know it’s the right move for this chapter in my life.”
The 2021 MVP was introduced by the Liberty at a press conference Friday a few days after the team traded for her as part of a three-team deal with the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings.
“For me any time you have a chance to get someone like this, you jump at that,” Liberty GM Jonathan Kolb said. “Players like Jonquel don’t become available very often. Pairing her with Sabrina (Ionescu) is exciting. They are going to be a dynamic duo for a very long time.”
Kolb said that he has had a Liberty jersey for Jones in his office for a year, hoping she might become available. She had one year left on her contract with the Sun before telling the organization she wanted to play elsewhere this season.
The 6-foot-6 All-Star averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season to help Connecticut reach the WNBA Finals for the second time in four seasons.
“Obviously we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish (in Connecticut),” Jones said. “My goal as an athlete, I wanted to step into a new situation and a new organization and better myself.”
The 29-year-old Jones, who is from the Bahamas, bolsters a young New York squad, led by Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, that has lost in the opening round of the playoffs the past two years. Jones was the No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft and was the league’s Most Improved Player in 2017. The next season she earned the Sixth Woman of the Year award before garnering the MVP three years later.
“The sky’s the limit for her,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “The goal is keep improving her game with the players we have here. She’s the perfect fit.”
New York isn’t done making moves. The league’s free agency begins Saturday and the Liberty are in the mix to potentially add former MVP Breanna Stewart, who is from upstate New York. Jones played with Stewart on overseas teams and said that she’ll do whatever is asked of her to recruit free agents.
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