WNBA Is Not Ready To Expand And Needs to Find More Money For Players

The league would like more players to stay home.

Going into 2023, the Women’s National Basketball Association has to solve two problems. How does the league get more money into the pockets of its players so its players don’t have to play in friendly or unfriendly nations around the globe in the league’s off season and avoid future situations where a player could end up in a hostile foreign county’s jail like Brittney Griner. The other and this is a far easier problem to solve, what cities should end up with a WNBA expansion franchise. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in September that the business would have its expansion announcement by the end of 2022 but that is not happening. The WNBA’s expansion committee is still gathering information on the various ownership groups that have expressed interest in joining the league.

Griner was arrested on February 17th  at a Moscow airport after Russian customs officials found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner was later convicted of drug possession and smuggling, which led to a nine-year sentence in a penal colony. She was released in a prisoner swap on December 8th. She was playing in Russia because that is where the money was for her. Sixty-seven of 144 league players will still play abroad, according to The Associated Press next year. WNBA players receive low pay in America compared to the millions they could make by playing overseas. Englebert would like to change that and have the players stay home but there is not enough money around the WNBA for that to happen. Meanwhile the expansion announcement has been delayed. Englebert said the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in stopping the expansion announcement. Engelbert claimed the league received “a ton of interest” from cities, more than she originally anticipated. Englebert said that the league is considering bids from 10 ownership groups.

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Brittney Griner l. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)