By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Author
NEW YORK — After spending her entire career in Connecticut, Jonquel Jones was ready for a change.
So she looked around and decided that New York would be the right place for her to continue her WNBA career.
“I am pleased to be here. I’m excited to be part of this organization,” Jones said. “When I played against Liberty last year, I saw a change in culture. The way they played, high-octane basketball. For me, I wanted to be a part of it. Being in a city like New York speaks for itself. Felt like the right move. I know it’s the right move for this chapter in my life.”
The 2021 MVP was unveiled by the Liberty at a press conference on Friday, a few days after the team traded for them in a three-team deal with the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings.
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“Anytime you get a chance to get someone like that, jump at it,” said Liberty GM Jonathan Kolb. “Players like Jonquel are not often available. Mating her with Sabrina (Ionescu) is exciting. They will be a dynamic duo for a very long time.”
Kolb said he had a Liberty jersey for Jones in his office for a year in hopes she might be available. She still had a year left on her contract with the Sun before telling the organization she wanted to play elsewhere that season.
The 6-foot-6 All-Star averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season to help Connecticut reach the WNBA Finals for the second time in four seasons.
“Obviously we haven’t achieved what we set out to do[in Connecticut],” Jones said. “My goal as an athlete, I wanted to enter a new situation and a new organization and improve myself.”
Jones, 29, who hails from the Bahamas, joins a young New York squad led by Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, who have lost in the opening round of the playoffs for the past two years. Jones was the No. 6 draft pick in 2016 and was the league’s most-improved player in 2017. She received sixth woman of the year honors the next season before earning MVP three years later.
“The sky’s the limit for them,” said Liberty coach Sandy Brondello. “The goal is to keep improving their game with the players we have here. It fits perfectly.”
New York isn’t done moving yet. The league’s free agency begins Saturday and the Liberty are in line to potentially add former MVP Breanna Stewart, who hails from New York State. Jones played with Stewart on overseas teams and said she will do whatever is asked of her to recruit free agents.
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