At the end of a tumultuous season, including a midseason coaching change and two season-ending injuries, the Sky made a pivotal move in their efforts to stabilize the franchise’s foundation by signing 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to a two-year extension.
Terms of the extension include the veteran supermax, $241,984 in Year 1, according to Copper’s agent, Zack Miller, and $248,134 in Year 2. The league’s CBA dictates that a veteran player’s base salary can increase or decrease by 3% in seasons after the first year of the extension, which explains why Copper will be making just under the supermax in 2025.
Copper arrived in Chicago via a trade with the Mystics in 2017 for two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne. After spending her first three seasons coming off the bench for the Sky, Copper followed a breakout season in 2020 with three consecutive All-Star nods. This year, Copper is averaging a career-high 18.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
“The first day she got in, I was there,” interim coach/general manager Emre Vatansever said. “I coached her all those years, and she fought for this situation so hard.”
Copper didn’t play in the Sky’s final regular-season game of the year to manage a toe injury she has been nursing all season. Sun coach Stephanie White sat her starters for most of the game, which had no playoff implications. Vatansever mostly kept his typical rotation in the Sky’s 102-91 overtime win.
As recently as two and a half weeks ago, Copper told the Sun-Times she had only briefly discussed the possibility of signing an extension, indicating she wanted to see what other teams had to offer.
On Friday, Copper’s tune had changed slightly, telling the Sun-Times, “It’s possible.”
Copper said an important factor for her would be knowing the foundation the Sky would lay over the next year. The franchise has important questions to answer, starting with who their general manager will be moving forward.
Sky CEO Adam Fox told the Sun-Times that the team is operating the role by committee. Securing Copper’s extension was a collaborative effort between Fox, principal owner Michael Alter and operating chairman and co-owner Nadia Rawlinson.
The Sky also will need to determine who their next coach will be and whether that means removing the interim status for Vatansever, who took over after James Wade’s resignation. According to multiple league sources, the Sky already have talked with potential coaching candidates, including Naismith Hall of Fame player Teresa Weatherspoon and Grizzlies assistant Sonia Raman.
Another question that needs answering sooner rather than later is where the Sky will practice after next season. Their current lease with Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield runs through 2024, and Alter, Fox and Rawlinson have said that the franchise is prioritizing a private practice facility.
It’s unclear what made Copper choose not to test free agency, but her signing clarifies that the Sky’s plans appeased her concerns.