LOS ANGELES — Sparks have had quite the busy time in this free agency period. They acquired former Storm guard Kia Nurse and Dream guard Aari McDonald in separate trades while also getting first round picks. But the Sparks also saw the departures of Nneka Ogwumike (team yet to be determined via free agency) and Jordin Canada (via the Aari McDonald trade).
Well, the Sparks are keeping some players. Layshia Clarendon and Rae Burrell were re-signed by the team on the first official day of free agency.
Layshia Clarendon was an important cog in the Sparks machine last season. They only played 24 out of a possible 40 games last season but in those games, they averaged 11.1 points (second best of her career), 3.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest. And this was after they were out of the league the year before. To show the importance of Layshia, the Sparks went 14-10 when they were on the court and 3-13 without. Also impressive was Layshia scoring a career-high 30 points against the Liberty in their second-to-last game of the season.
Layshia is coming into their 11th year in the league. They were drafted 9th overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.
Rae Burrell played in 29 games and averaged 3.6 points per game while shooting .390 from three for the season. She came on late in the season, scoring double figures in three of the last five games of the year. That included a career-best 18 points in the aforementioned New York Liberty game where Layshia also set a career-high. The Sparks selected her 9th overall in the first round of the 2022 WNBA Draft and she will no doubt be part of this youth movement the team is now having.
With three first round picks coming into this season, the veteran tutelage of Layshia Clarendon and a young Rae Burrell that is getting some experience will be key players as the Sparks come into a new era.