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Saturday, March 2, 2024

The WNBA Can’t Ignore Salary Issues

  • Becky Hammon’s salary ($1M) approaches the total cap for any one team ($1.4M).
  • But it highlights the older, more contentious issue of players’ wages.
Jeff Bottari-NBAE via Las Vegas Aces/Design: John Regula

The WNBA has taken several big steps forward in the last year, but its most recent achievement is highlighting the older, more contentious issue of players’ wages — and making it more urgent than ever.

Former Spurs assistant Becky Hammon will earn $1 million per season as the Las Vegas Aces’ new head coach — making her the highest-paid HC in league history.

But on Tuesday, free agent Liz Cambage, who played for Las Vegas in 2019 and 2021 — pointed out that Hammon’s salary is four times the supermax for players. 

  • Hammon’s salary approaches the total cap for any one team ($1.4 M). 
  • By contrast, Seattle Storm superstar Breanna Stewart signed a one-year, $228,000 supermax deal on Tuesday.
  • WNBA coaches’ salaries are not subject to the salary cap; the cap is determined by league revenue, the bulk of which comes from TV deals.
  • ESPN’s $25 million-per-year WNBA contract runs through the 2022 season. By contrast, the NBA makes $2.6 billion per season through its media deals.

This is nothing new. The issue of low wages has plagued the WNBA for years — to the point where many players, including legends like Diana Taurasi, have had to supplement their incomes by playing overseas.

Courtney Vandersloot, who just starred in the Sky’s championship run, reportedly received a “disrespectful offer” from Chicago — and her European team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, may pay her to sit out the next WNBA campaign.

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