The Connecticut Sun have traded away a second key piece to their franchise's recent success, announcing Monday that they're sending longtime point guard Jasmine Thomas as well as their 2023 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for three young players.
The departure of Thomas, a 12-year vet who missed the majority of the 2022 season with an ACL tear, comes hours after the organization announced it traded 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones to New York Liberty, which a source told ESPN was at her request.
In return, the Sun receive 2021 seventh overall pick Jasmine Walker, the rights to 2022 16th overall pick Kianna Smith and 2022 19th overall pick Olivia Nelson-Ododa from L.A. Smith, the Sun said, is unlikely to play during the 2023 WNBA season after rupturing her patella tendon in December.
Thomas took to Twitter to reflect on her eight seasons with the Sun.
Thank you Connecticut Sun! 🧡☀️ pic.twitter.com/FC6eXkKwMN— Jasmine Thomas (@jaszthomas) January 16, 2023
The Sun traded away their first-round pick (10th overall) but gained the sixth overall pick from New York in the Jones trade.
"Jasmine Thomas's presence on and off the court has been both a driving force and a calming presence to her teammates," Sun general manager Darius Taylor said in a statement. "Her leadership and toughness have gotten the Connecticut Sun franchise to incredible heights over the last 8 years. As we look toward the future, we saw moving her as an opportunity to build, while also remaining as a championship contender for years to come."
Thomas -- a five-time all-defensive player for the Sun who also had stints with the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream -- reunites with Curt Miller, the Sparks' new head coach, who was at the helm for all but one of Thomas' seasons in Connecticut.
"I have had the pleasure of coaching Jasmine for my entire professional head coaching career and know she will be an incredible addition to this team and the culture we are building in LA," Miller said in a statement. "Her knowledge of the game and her ability to lead a team both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor is something that will be invaluable to us."
Thomas has one year left on her current contract; other than her, Los Angeles only has two players on protected deals for 2023: Katie Lou Samuelson and Chennedy Carter.
The Sparks last made the playoffs in 2020, and this past offseason brought in Miller and general manager Karen Bryant to run the show.
The Sun will take on a new look without Jones and Thomas, both of whom were large pieces in helping Connecticut make the semifinals each of the past four years, including the Finals in 2019 and 2022. Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner are still under contract with the Sun, and a source told ESPN the organization intends to designate Brionna Jones as a core player this week.
Connecticut replaced Miller with Stephanie White, whose previous coaching stint in the league was with the Indiana Fever.