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WNBA reports: Sun to re-sign Jonquel Jones, welcome back Courtney Williams

The 2022 WNBA season unofficially starts on Tuesday and indications are that the Connecticut Sun will re-sign forward Jonquel Jones and bring back a familiar face.

Free agent guard Courtney Williams is rumored to be returning to Connecticut, as first reported last week by Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV.

Rachel Galligan of justwomenssports.com was the first to report last week that the Sun were close to finalizing a deal with Jones.

Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller would not comment about either player because teams are forbidden from discussing free agent acquisitions until the player has signed.

Connecticut fell short again of winning its first championship in 2021 after a record-breaking regular season. It tied the franchise record for most wins in a season (26), set a single-season franchise record for the best winning percentage (.813) and was the top seed in the playoffs.

The Sun had three major award winners — Jonquel Jones (WNBA MVP), post Brionna Jones (Most Improved Player) and Miller (Coach of the Year). Jonquel Jones and guard Briann January (an unrestricted free agent) also earned first-team All-Defensive Team honors and guard Jasmine Thomas and Brionna Jones made the second team.

Connecticut’s season ended abruptly in the semifinals as they were eliminated in four games by the Chicago Sky, who went on to win their first championship.

“Any offseason you’re always trying to tweak your roster,” Miller said. “What I continue to be really proud of is we had to intentionally pivot and play a different style (of defensive basketball) during the 2021 season than we had been playing and turned it into the best record in franchise history.

“I was really proud of what we did. Does that mean that you don’t go into every offseason trying to tinker and trying to improve your roster? Certainly that is the challenge we’re currently in the midst of in free agency.”

The Sun gave Jonquel Jones a core qualifying offer meaning that they had exclusive negotiating rights.

Jones averaged a league-high 11.2 rebounds, was fourth in points per game (19.4) and tied for seventh in blocks per game (1.3). The 6-foot-6 forward was also runner-up in the three-point shooting contest at the league’s all-star game and shot 36.2-percent during the regular season.

The report that Williams will return was as surprising as it was intriguing. Williams played four seasons with the team and helped them to the 2019 WNBA Finals. She was traded before the 2020 season at her request to the Atlanta Dream as part of a three-way deal in which Connecticut acquired January from the Phoenix Mercury. January, who started at guard last season, is an unrestricted free agent.

Williams became an unrestricted free agent after Atlanta opted not to re-sign her because of her involvement in a fight outside of an Atlanta club in May 2021.

Williams was a 2021 All-Star and averaged 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. She had been the Sun’s best mid-range shooter during her time with the team and her departure forced them to abandon their up-tempo offense and play at the league’s slowest pace.

The Sun were close to the salary cap last season so they would only be able to sign two of the three — January, Jones or Williams.

Khristina Williams reported last week that January will sign with the Seattle Storm.

n.griffen@theday.com

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