Kahleah Copper on trade from Sky to Mercury: 'Win-win situation'

PHOENIX -- Kahleah Copper did not see getting traded in her near future five months after signing a two-year extension with the Chicago Sky in September.

"This is not like what I expected," Copper said Thursday in her first comments since the blockbuster trade that sent her to the Phoenix Mercury for four draft picks and two players.

After watching how the Sky approached free agency this year, Copper communicated with the organization about "wanting to compete" and what was best for her. The Sky worked with her, Copper said, to get her "in a really good position."

That ended up being the Mercury, who traded the third overall pick to acquire the 2021 WNBA Finals MVP -- which she won after helping to beat the Mercury for the title.

"I'm just glad that we were able to come to an agreement and both come out in a win-win situation," Copper said. "I think it was what's best."

Coming to a Mercury team that has been proactive in upgrading both its roster and facilities was a breath of fresh air for Copper.

"I'm super excited," she said. "Something I've never experienced. And, I think it's important to invest in women. Invest in women and you see the results that come out of it. People want to play there. People want to come and be a part of something special like that.

"But, like I said, that's something I've never experienced. So, seeing those plans and seeing what's in the works, I'm excited to be able to be there."

New Suns and Mercury owner Mat Ishbia announced plans to build the Mercury their own practice facility and headquarters in downtown Phoenix near the Footprint Center. Copper said she watched as other teams around the WNBA invested in players and facilities while the Sky didn't, and said that's attractive to players.

When asked what needs to change for Chicago to be a free agent destination, Copper said: "Some things are obvious."

"Sometimes you do have to keep up with the Joneses," she said. "Just stating the obvious. Players are going where it's attractive, where they feel like the game is growing, where they feel like things are moving forward."

During a USA Basketball minicamp this month, Copper got to talk with Mercury stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner about playing in Phoenix. She doesn't feel pressure to win in what's likely to be one of Taurasi's final seasons.

"No pressure really," Copper said. "I know I have experience playing with older players who probably don't have as much basketball ahead of them than they have behind them, playing with Candace Parker and just wanting to be the best version of myself every single day for them, and to win and to do big things.

"So, it's kind of the same kind of same approach for me. No pressure really. I just want to go in and bring what I bring every day."