On Thursday, it was announced that 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne has been traded from the Chicago Sky to the Washington Mystics.
Washington Mystics Release
Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault announced today that the team has acquired forward Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky in exchange for center Stefanie Dolson, guard Kahleah Copper and Washington’s first round pick (second overall) in the 2017 WNBA draft.
“Clearly, this is one of the biggest moves in the history of this organization,” said Thibault. “In only four years, Elena has established herself as one of the premier players in the world, as evidenced by her MVP season two years ago. Her impact on and off the court will be invaluable. Her pure basketball talents as a scorer, passer, rebounder, and shot-blocker will raise the level of effectiveness of all her teammates, and those talented teammates will take a lot of the day- to-day pressure off of her as well. She joins a core group that is just entering the best years of their careers and is making a commitment to helping the Mystics become one of the elite organizations in the WNBA. Her involvement in the D.C. community will have an impact on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be a Mystics fan.”
Delle Donne has distinguished herself as one of the WNBA’s most decorated players over her four-year career, earning league MVP honors in 2015, three All-Star selections as a starter (2013-15, no WNBA All-Star Game in 2016), two All-WNBA First Team and one All-WNBA Second Team selections and the 2013 Rookie of the Year award in addition to being named to the U.S. Women’s National Team that competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. She has also been recognized for her efforts off the court, earning the 2015 WNBA Community Assist award and the Dawn Staley Community Leadership award in 2014 and 2015.
“I’m really excited about this next chapter in my career with the Mystics,” said Delle Donne. “Coach Thibault, Mr. Leonsis and Ms. Johnson have built a strong team that is ready to make a significant impact in the league and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I’m sad to be leaving Chicago, a place that was a fantastic city for sports and truly felt like home. I’d like to give a huge thank you to the fans there, and to the Sky organization for a great four years.”
Delle Donne has averaged 20.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game over her four-year career and has led her team to the playoffs each year, including a trip to the WNBA Finals in 2014. She averaged a career-best 23.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game on her way to being named the league’s MVP and earning All-WNBA First Team honors in 2015. Last season, she averaged 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 28 games.
“Adding a player of Elena’s caliber and character is an exciting moment for us,” said Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports & Entertainment founder, majority owner, chairman and chief executive officer. “I’m looking forward to the connection she will build with our city and our fans and to joining them this summer to cheer on the Mystics.”
The Sky selected the 6’5 Delle Donne with the second overall pick as a member of the heralded 2013 WNBA draft class. During her rookie season, she led the team to their first playoff berth. She was the leading vote getter for that year’s All-Star game and was unanimously named the WNBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
“We are thrilled to welcome Elena to our organization,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment, vice chairman and Mystics president and managing partner Sheila C. Johnson. “Her reputation on and off the court is unparalleled and we are glad to have her on our team.”
Thibault added, “It is the difficult part of professional sports that when you make a trade such as this, you are forced to trade away excellent players in order to get it done. Good trades are not designed to be one-sided. They should benefit both teams, and in this case, Chicago is getting two very talented young players. I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching Stef and Kahleah. Stef has been a major part of our team for three years and it was very difficult giving her up and then having to explain it to her. She and I have had a terrific relationship on and off the court. It truly is like losing a part of your family.
Kahleah has the potential to be great and I hope she is every game except against us. Watching her improve throughout last season was fun to see. We wish them both well and great success in the future. They both deserve it.”
Dolson was selected in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2014 WNBA draft by the Mystics. She help lead the Mystics to playoff berths in 2014 and 2015. She averaged 8.6 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game in the last three seasons. She was named to the All-Star team in 2015.
The Mystics drafted Copper in the 2016 WNBA draft in the first round (seventh overall). During her rookie season, she recorded 6.2 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Chicago Sky Release
The Chicago Sky have acquired All-Star center Stefanie Dolson, guard Kahleah Copper and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, in exchange for Elena Delle Donne.
“The acquisition of these two players and the second overall pick in the upcoming draft gives us three outstanding pieces that make our line-up stronger, deeper and better,” said Sky Head Coach and General Manager Amber Stocks. “Our focus is to enhance the championship culture and winning mindset with our talented roster of strong players.”
Dolson, a WNBA All-Star & back to back NCAA National Champion with the University of Connecticut, will enter her fourth season in the league after averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 2016. Dolson was drafted sixth overall by the Washington Mystics in the 2014 WNBA Draft.
Kahleah Copper was drafted as the seventh overall pick out of Rutgers University in the 2016 WNBA Draft. Copper immediately made an impact in her rookie season averaging 6.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. As a 6’1” guard Copper has great versatility at both ends of the floor, gets to the basket efficiently and also shoots the ball at 46.7% from beyond the arc.
Along with the addition of Dolson and Copper, the Sky will now have the second overall and the ninth overall selections in the upcoming WNBA Draft, which takes place in April. This draft promises a wealth of talent, including the nations leading scorer, Kelsey Plum, from the University of Washington and University of South Carolina center Alaina Coates. Other players making their mark in their senior season include center Brionna Jones and guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough from the University of Maryland, and forward Nia Coffey from Northwestern University.
Delle Donne was selected by the Sky second overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft from the University of Delaware. She played in 105 games with the Sky and averaged 20.5 points and 6.6 rebounds.
“We appreciate the contributions Elena has made to the Chicago community and the Sky organization over the past four seasons. We wish her the best in life as she continues her career,” said Sky Head Coach & General Manger Amber Stocks.