Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker was introduced Tuesday as a member of the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces, taking her place in a star-studded lineup that on paper should be even better next season.
"I'm very excited to be part of that organization and to be able to learn and grow with some of the best players in the game," Parker said. "Whether it's finishing, or slipping a screen to get a teammate open for a 3, I'm excited to continue to do that."
Parker, 36, announced her decision to sign with the Aces in an Instagram post on Jan. 28. She joins reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson and WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, as well as All-Stars Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum.
Parker said she was especially excited to play with Wilson rather than "figure out how we're going to guard her."
"I'm excited to learn from her," Parker said. "I'm excited to get her the ball. I'm just excited to have her as a target when I'm playmaking. I think we're going to make each other better."
Parker, a two-time WNBA champion, played the past two seasons with the Chicago Sky, leading them to their first championship in 2021. Drafted No. 1 overall by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008, Parker has averaged 16.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists in her career.
Parker was a top target for the Aces this offseason as the organization looks to extend its championship reign.
"I want to be one of the best offensive teams that women's basketball has ever seen," Aces coach Becky Hammon said. "I think we have a great opportunity to put a really exciting basketball team out on the court."
General manager Natalie Williams pointed to Parker's versatility. No team has won back-to-back championships since the Sparks won in 2001 and 2002.
"We just felt like Candace was the absolute perfect fit," Williams said. "Candace could probably play one through five, and she'll help us in so many areas. We felt that in order for us to have an opportunity to defend our championship, Candace was where we needed to go as one of our big-time pieces."
The Aces offer Parker familiarity. Team president Nikki Fargas, a former assistant on Pat Summitt's staff at the University of Tennessee, recruited Parker to Knoxville. Hammon played on the Russian national team with Parker's wife, Anna Petrakova. And Chelsea Gray and her wife are the godparents to Parker and Petrakova's son, Airr.
"We do make sure and we will continue to make sure that our players and their families will always be in the forefront of who we are as a franchise," Fargas said. "We are here to assemble the best team possible."
Fargas' comments come after the Aces traded forward Dearica Hamby and a 2024 first-round draft pick to the Sparks in exchange for the rights to center Amanda Zahui B. and a 2024 second-round pick. The Aces have since traded the rights to Zahui B. to the Washington Mystics for second-round picks in 2024 and 2025.
On Jan. 21, Hamby posted a message to her Instagram account alleging mistreatment by representatives of the Aces organization due to her pregnancy. Hamby is expected to give birth before the beginning of the WNBA season. The Aces have not given an official response to those allegations.
When a reporter tried to ask a question to Fargas about Hamby, he was interrupted by team communications and Fargas left the Zoom soon after without answering.
In addition to Parker, the Aces have also signed Alysha Clark and Cayla George, in addition to retaining Sydney Colson and Kiah Stokes from last season's championship team.