After failing to reach the WNBA title again, here’s why the Sun will be different next season

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – The engine did everything it could. You didn’t stumble once. This is still not enough.

Alyssa Thomas He finished the 2022 WNBA season with consecutive triples, a historic rarity that is becoming more and more common in the league. But instead of returning to Las Vegas in Game 5, the winner takes it all, Thomas and Connecticut Sun His teammates had to walk past the visitors’ locker room to hear Las Vegas ice bottles pop and answer questions about the strains.

That’s what the sun wanted and got close to it many times, only to continue past the locker room.

“We just lost, so I’m just trying to address this now,” center Jonkel Jones said in response to a question about taking the last step as aces noise filled the lobby. “I really wish I could answer that for you now, but all I know is that it hurts, and that’s all I feel right now.”

It was the second time in four years that most of this band ended their season with such a scene. In 2019, Washington Mystics and MVP Elena Delle Donne participated in the area after Game Five, which was late to the sun. In Bubbles Season 2020, they lost in five matches to the Aces in the semi-finals. And last year, they only rode the #1 seed until they lost her in the semi-finals of Game Four to eventual champion Chicago Sky, who was the #6 seed.

They knocked out the Demon of 2021 in a shocking Game 5 semi-final in Chicago. They avoided sweeping another Finals behind Thomas, who took the first Triple Threat in WNBA Finals history Thursday night to keep the season alive in Game Three. 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

“She’s a beast,” aces coach Becky Hammon said after the Aces were blown up by 29 points in Game Three. “I went to the UFC match last night; I don’t want to go into the cage with her. She is just tough. Tough, tough, tough. Tough, then a playmaker.”

Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun scored a triple-double in the WNBA Finals, but it wasn't enough to beat the top seed at the Las Vegas Ace.  (Maddy Meyer/Getty Images)

Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun scored a triple-double in the WNBA Finals, but it wasn’t enough to beat the top seed at the Las Vegas Ace. (Maddy Meyer/Getty Images)

Thomas then turned around and did it again on Sunday, marking her fourth since July 21 and in her career. she had 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds To pass Candice Parker and Sabrina Ionescu for the most triple-doubles in WNBA history. It was a perfect cap for a season that saw a record nine. There are 20 in total.

“Alyssa has been fantastic and a fighter during this whole series, sometimes even trying to put us on her back,” said Sun coach Kurt Miller.

Sun players made no secret that their window was closing as the salary cap crisis approached in 2023. Players’ salaries nearly doubled when the new collective bargaining agreement was signed before 2020, But the salary cap has only increased by 30%. Each year, each of them gradually rises.

It creates difficult decisions as not everyone can sit at the player max. The Aces Heart was closed because some took less than they might in other places as free agents. The Sun has $847,500 of its $1,420,500 ceiling locked in Thomas ($212,000), Deewana Bonner ($234,350), Jonquil Jones ($211,150) and point guard Jasmine Thomas ($190,000), According to her collar stats.

Jasmine Thomas suffered a ruptured ACL two weeks into the season and was out for the rest of the year, a recurring topic with the Sun. Last year, Alyssa Thomas went out with Achilles and the previous year, Jonquil Jones opted out of bubble season. They’ve had bad breaks and faced teams feeling ‘destined to win’. An example is the league’s leading aces.

Breonna Jones, sixth player of the year in 2021, is an unrestricted free agent, as is guard Courtney Williams, who returned to the Sun to win a chip after two years with the Atlanta Dream. Natisha Hedman, who took over the point guard duties, is tied up. It will take some ingenuity to build a list for competition. It almost certainly will not preserve its essence.

Miller said the success this group has had since 2016 is “really special”. That was his first year as a coach and the same year they drafted 2020 MVP Jonquel Jones with a No.6 pick and traded mid-season No.8 with Williams’ pick. The Sun is the highest-earning franchisee since 2017.

“But in professional sports, you want banners and we will keep grinding and grinding until we can try to hang a banner,” Miller said.

Who helps bring that to the rafters currently is a very much written question mark.

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