Friday's WNBA: Sue Bird says she's returning to Storm for another season

Associated Press

Seattle — Sue Bird announced Friday that she will return to the Seattle Storm next season, putting off retirement for at least one more year.

The four-time WNBA champion and 12-time All-Star selection has spent her entire WNBA career with the Storm after being the No. 1 pick of the 2002 WNBA draft. The 2022 season will be Bird's 21st overall with the franchise, but she missed the 2014 and 2019 seasons due to injury.

FILE - Sue Bird announced Friday, Jan. 7, 2021, that she will return to the Seattle Storm next season, putting off retirement for at least one more year.

For several years, the 41-year-old Bird has said she would assess how much longer she wanted to play on a year-by-year basis. She won her fifth gold medal with the United States at the Olympics last summer, but Seattle was ousted in the second-round of the WNBA playoffs by Phoenix. Bird was feted with chants of “one more year” after the Storm lost at home to the Mercury.

Bird posted a video clip on Instagram of those chants on Friday and the words, “OK. Let’s go.” She previously talked of her excitement for the 2022 season and for the Storm getting a chance to return to Climate Pledge Arena after spending the 2019 and 2021 seasons playing in other venues around the Puget Sound region.

Bird averaged 10 points and 5.3 assists per game last season. She also averaged nearly 28 minutes per game, her highest total since 2017.

Sandy Brondello hired as New York Liberty coach

New York — The New York Liberty hired Sandy Brondello as their new coach Friday, bringing her on after a successful run in Phoenix.

Brondello led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals this year, and then parted ways with the team in the offseason. She had a 150-108 record in eight seasons with Phoenix, making the playoffs every year.

“Sandy brings a wealth of coaching experience and is a proven winner with a championship pedigree, both as a player and coach in the WNBA and internationally,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said. “Throughout her longstanding professional coaching career, she has demonstrated her ability to build consistent and sustained success as a skilled leader and mentor on and off the court. We are thrilled to welcome her to New York as we move forward in our pursuit of winning a WNBA championship.”

FILE - The New York Liberty hired Sandy Brondello to be their new coach Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.

She replaces Walt Hopkins who left the Liberty last month after helping the team reach the playoffs. New York lost to Brondello's Mercury in the first round on a last-second shot. Phoenix went on to the Finals before losing to Chicago in four games.

“It is an honor to join the historic New York Liberty franchise and to coach and lead such a talented roster of players,” Brondello said. “I owe immense gratitude to the team’s ownership and front office for entrusting me with this important role during such an integral time in the history of the organization."

Brondello inherits a roster with a lot of young talent, including Sabrina Ionescu, last season's Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere and Betnijah Laney.

“We are excited to have Sandy join us,” Liberty owners Clara Wu Tsai and Joe Tsai said in a statement. “We ran a thorough search process for the next head coach, and when we met with Sandy in New York, we knew she would bring not only her wealth of experience but also her passion for elevating our star players and developing our young core."

Brondello was the league's Coach of the Year in 2014. She also played five seasons in the WNBA from 1998 to 2003.