As expected, Breanna Stewart has agreed to return to the Liberty on a salary much lower than her value as the reigning Most Valuable Player of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Even as her core designation allowed her to negotiate for a supermax deal worth around $235,000, she settled for a bottom line that would net her $60,000 less in 2024. Needless to say, her willingness to take a pay cut enables the seafoam to keep the starting lineup that got them to the Finals last year and subsequently try to improve on its bridesmaid finish.

Interestingly, Stewart is set to make even less than her immediate past pacesetting campaign. Considering that terms of her one-year, non-guaranteed contract were closed after the Liberty managed to get Jonquel Jones’ Hancock on a new accord, it’s clear that she set competitiveness as her first — and, perhaps, only — priority. Which, in and of itself, is far from surprising. After all, she cuts much higher paychecks from endorsement opportunities; among these is a landmark setup with Puma as one of a mere handful in the league to have signature sneakers.

As things stand, Stewart will have the lowest take-home figure in the Liberty’s First Five. Whether her sacrifice will translate to better results this year, however, is another matter altogether. With Stephanie Dolson moving to the Mystics and Marine Johannes taking time off from the WNBA, the bench looks to be too thin for comfort. In any case, there’s no question that she will continue to be the focal point of the offense. Notwithstanding her seeming bouts with fatigue in the 2023 Playoffs, she figures to feature first and foremost in coach Sandy Brondello’s system given her range, versatility, and court vision.

This time in 2025, Stewart will again be faced with a choice. That her contract is the shortest possible length puts pressure on the Liberty to keep the roster as heavy with talent as possible. On the whole, though, their intrinsic pluses give them first-mover-advantage status. Meanwhile, she’s back and ready. And if the here and now winds leads to the expected there and then, everything else will follow.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.