Nneka Ogwumike is set to make a move to Seattle, as she revealed through social media on Monday afternoon that she would be joining the Seattle Storm. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the deal is for one season.
“Talisa Rhea, the Storm’s general manager, remarked, ‘Nneka is one of the most impactful players in the history of our league, not only for her achievements on the court but also as an agent of positive change across the WNBA,'” stated in a statement. “I know Seattle and our community share our enthusiasm that Nneka is coming to the Storm.”
Ogwumike will be joining the Storm after a challenging season where they posted an 11-29 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
“Stepping into this season of change with you, Seattle,” Ogwumike expressed in a statement. “With my teammates, coaches, staff, organization, ownership, and, most importantly, the fans. Every part of me is grateful and ready for this opportunity to continue to be great and sustain my legacy. You can’t calm this Storm.”
Ogwumike, who is 33 years old, had a strong showing in 2023, finishing sixth in MVP voting with averages of 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds.
This performance was only surpassed by her MVP season in 2016, when she averaged 19.6 points (third in the league), 9.1 rebounds (third), and 1.2 blocks (eighth) per game. The 6-foot-2 forward is an eight-time All-Star and earned second-team All-WNBA honors last year.
As an unrestricted free agent, Ogwumike announced last week her decision not to return to the Los Angeles Sparks, the only organization she has ever played for.
She was drafted No. 1 overall by the Sparks in 2012 and earned Rookie of the Year honors. Over her 12-year career with the Sparks, she averaged 16.5 points and 8.8 rebounds, winning the WNBA championship in 2016 and the league MVP award.
Her departure marks the end of an era, notably following the controversial 2019 postseason under head coach Derek Fisher.
Fisher’s decision to bench superstar forward Candace Parker in a crucial Game 3 of the semifinals stirred significant tension. Two offseasons later, in 2021, both Parker and point guard Chelsea Gray departed in free agency.
Parker went on to win her third championship with the Chicago Sky, while Gray secured her second with the Las Vegas Aces in 2022 and another with the Aces in 2023.
Nneka Ogwumike’s exit initiates a complete rebuild for head coach Curt Miller, who assumed the LA job in 2022 after a successful stint with the Connecticut Sun. The Sparks dismissed Fisher 12 games into the season.
Reflecting on the absence of postseason play, Ogwumike expressed in the “Shattered Glass” documentary that it had been a while since her parents attended playoff games in October. The Sparks haven’t reached the postseason since 2020, marking the first time Ogwumike didn’t participate in the playoffs throughout her career.
Despite her stellar performance last season, the MVP race was dominated by Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, and Alyssa Thomas. Ogwumike currently serves as the president of the WNBA Players Association and played a significant role in shaping the new era with the 2020 collective bargaining agreement.
Notably, the agreement increased maximum salaries by 82% in the first year and provided maternity protections. Both the players and the league have the option to opt out of the CBA in November.