NEW YORK — Canadian national women's basketball team star Kia Nurse is heading to the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury after a three-team trade involving the New York Liberty on Wednesday.
The Liberty acquired Natasha Howard from the Seattle Storm as part of the deal.
The three-time WNBA champion goes to the Liberty for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft this year and the Mercury's first-round pick next year. The Liberty acquired that pick from Phoenix by sending Nurse and Megan Walker to the Mercury for the sixth pick this year and their first-round pick next year.
The No. 1 pick didn't stay in Seattle long as the Storm traded it to Dallas for Katie Lou Samuelson and the Wings’ second-round pick in 2022. The Wings become the first team in WNBA history to hold the first and second overall picks in the same draft.
In addition, Dallas also holds the fifth, seventh and 13th selections in 2021.
In a separate trade with Seattle, the Liberty got guard Sami Whitcomb for the rights to Stephanie Talbot.
Nurse, a 24-year-old from Hamilton, was the Liberty’s 10th overall selection in the 2018 WNBA Draft.
She tweeted thanks to Liberty fans and the New York organization "for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to live out one of my wildest dreams of playing in the WNBA. . . New York has truly been my second home over the past 3 seasons.
"With that being said I am so excited to start this new chapter in Phoenix!"
Nurse averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game over 89 contests (59 starts) during her three-year tenure with New York.
"We have the privilege of welcoming multiple-time WNBA champions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb to Brooklyn," general manager Jonathan Kolb said. "The magnitude of Natasha choosing to be in New York cannot be overstated. She is an All-WNBA talent who has worked for and earned everything that she has achieved, who has contributed to championship runs on multiple teams, and who will fit seamlessly into Walt Hopkins' system."
Howard won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2019. The 29-year-old forward won titles in Minnesota in 2017 and Seattle in 2018 and last season.
"I am very excited to be a part of the New York Liberty organization," she said. "I’m also excited to meet my new teammates and the fans. I’m so pumped about the 2021 season.”
Howard averaged 9.5 points and 7.1 rebounds last season while shooting 53% from the field.
Whitcomb was a key member of the Storm's franchise the last few years. The 32-year-old is a solid 3-pointer shooter.
She led the team in scoring the past two seasons. Walker was drafted ninth by New York last season and averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds while playing in 18 games.
"I would like to thank Kia Nurse and Megan Walker for their contributions to our organization," added Kolb. "The unfortunate part of transactions such as these is that you have to say goodbye to people who have contributed to the team in so many ways."
New York, which had seven rookies last season, still has the No. 6, 25 and 29th picks in the draft.
— With files from The Canadian Press
The Associated Press