The New York Liberty and guard/forward Betnijah Laney have agreed to a multiyear extension through the 2025 season, the team announced Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Laney is playing in her third season with the Liberty.
- In 2023, Laney is posting averages of 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Laney’s best season with the Liberty was 2021 when she averaged 16.8 points per game.
- The Liberty are 32-7 in the regular season, sitting second in the WNBA standings. New York is 9-1 in their last 10 games.
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 9, 2023
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
What does Laney give the Liberty?
After coming to New York as a max player in 2021, Laney had to take a step back with her role, particularly on the offensive end, as the Liberty overhauled their roster this offseason. As she learned the new system, Laney improved her shooting efficiency and scoring every month of the season. She currently has the same true shooting percentage as teammate Sabrina Ionescu, who has been lighting the net on fire all year. Laney has also taken on the toughest perimeter defensive assignment all season, helping to set up New York’s defense at the point of attack. The Liberty championship formula is incomplete with Laney’s particular brand of toughness and physicality. — Merchant
How does this set up New York going forward?
The Liberty signed Ionescu to an extension before the start of the season and also agreed to terms with reserve Kayla Thornton last week, keeping all three players under contract through 2025. Courtney Vandersloot signed a two-year deal in the offseason, so New York has five players signed for 2024, including rookie Nyara Sabally. Breanna Stewart (who was ineligible for an extension) and Jonquel Jones will be unrestricted free agents. Stewart has given no indication that she plans to leave, but the Liberty can use the core provision on her to retain her rights.
The extension path is one the Las Vegas Aces have taken with their top players as well. A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, and Chelsea Gray all agreed to below-max extensions with Las Vegas before hitting unrestricted free agency, and New York was able to do the same with its All-Stars. — Merchant
Who are the top free agents in 2024?
Laney would have been a coveted free agent in 2024 as a do-it-all wing. The class is still pretty deep, headlined by Jewell Loyd, Kahleah Copper, Skylar Diggins-Smith in the backcourt and Stewart, Jones, Nneka Ogwumike, DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner in the frontcourt. The latter three seem unlikely to move teams in the offseason, but Laney appeared to be more of a wild card given her nomadic path through the league — she played for four teams in her first five seasons before settling in New York. — Merchant
Laney, 29, entered the league in 2015 when the Chicago Sky selected her with the 17th pick. She arrived in the WNBA after a successful college career at Rutgers where she was a first-team All-Big Ten in 2015.
For her career, Laney averages 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game through 205 games played. Her best season was 2021, when she became an All-Star for the first time.
In 2020, Laney was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player and a member of the All-Defensive Team.
(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)