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WNBA prioritization and overseas play – How they will impact the league and its players going forward – ESPN

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Mechelle VoepelESPN.com

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

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      Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Training camps for the 2022 WNBA season begin Sunday, but dozens of players likely won’t be on hand when camps open. It’s an early start for a season that is compacted because the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup begins Sept. 21 in Australia.

And it’s the latest example of how the WNBA’s summer-time season has long been at odds with the global basketball schedule.

The WNBA season traditionally tips off in May, with playoffs ending in September or October. Most overseas leagues are based in the winter months and end anywhere from February to late April, sometimes going into May. Thus many WNBA players compete almost year-round to maximize their income, and sometimes arrive late to the start of WNBA camps or even the season itself.

That conflict came to a head in the most recent collective bargaining agreement, signed in January 2020, in which the league’s owners and the players’ union agreed to the policy of “prioritization,” which pushes players to put the WNBA first.

The union believed it was a worthwhile concession for what it gained in negotiations, which included salary increases. But some players, including two-time WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, didn’t support it. The Seattle Storm forward voiced her concerns Feb. 10, shortly after agreeing to a one-year deal with the team.

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Stewart earns approximately $1.5 million per season overseas. The WNBA supermax salary for the 2022 season is $228,094, although with potential team and league marketing agreements, and bonuses, Stewart could earn closer to $500,000.

“Prioritization is, like, the biggest topic of conversation in the WNBA for me, especially in the next couple of years,” Stewart said then on a video call with reporters. “To be able to play overseas at UMMC Ekaterinburg, where basketball is very valued, we’re treated really well and able to make a lot of money, it’s just hard for me. With the prioritization, you’re cutting off one of my sources of income.”

Later that month, however, the arrest of Brittney Griner, Stewart’s USA Basketball teammate, in Moscow and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine both added layers …….

Source: https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/33740278/wnba-prioritization-overseas-play-how-impact-league-players-going-forward

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