Meesseman’s tenure with the Mystics ends, reportedly signs with Chicago Sky


The Emma Meesseman era of the Washington Mystics has come to a close as the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP has reportedly agreed to terms with the Chicago Sky for the 2022 season. 

She will join the defending league champions after not playing in Washington two of the last four seasons.

Earlier in the offseason, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault expressed some skepticism on Meesseman returning for the upcoming season. Most of his reservations, however, were due to her expected commitments to the Belgian National Team and the FIBA World Cup this year. 

Throughout her career, playing with Team Belgium often was in contrast with the needs of Washington. Trying to balance both commitments became exacerbated with the coronavirus pandemic limiting international travel. She missed all of 2018 and 2021, along with other series of games, due to her role with the Belgian Cats.

"Emma was one of the linchpins for us years ago when we came here to DC and tried to rebuild. But it is free agency and free agency in its truest form, allows players to make decisions for themselves and go where they want," Thibault said on Tuesday. "We wanted to have a reliable future going forward. And I think Myisha represents that for us. A young player who is going into the prime of a career who continues to get better, and a longer-term commitment to her was a priority for us. 


Financially, the Mystics realistically only could commit to one of their three players that were free agents: Meesseman, Myisha Hines-Allen and Tina Charles. At the least, Meesseman's and Charles' values are worthy of a contract near the maximum allowable amount of $196,267. Hines-Allen was also due for a significant pay raise as a restricted free agent. No matter what, signing one player would only leave less than $300,000 of cap space for Washington. They would need four more players to just reach the minimum roster size. 

Once the Mystics agreed to terms with Hines-Allen, it was going to be tough to make it work with Meesseman nor Charles for the full season deal. That wasn't without a lack of trying.

"Actually Myisha and I talked about if there was a way to figure out how to get her and Emma together on this team and we both were trying to figure out a way to do that," Thibault said. "And as it turned out I mean, Emma made her own decision for us. I think all of us here would have liked to have found a way to do that, but it didn't happen. And we and we would have still tried to pursue Elizabeth [Williams] anyway if we could have figured out a way to do it."

Without Meesseman or Charles, the team announced the free-agent signing of center Elizabeth Williams from the Atlanta Dream. 

An option for Washington could have been a pro-rated salary for Meesseman, which the organization was open to last year with Meesseman's EuroCup and Olympic obligations. Once the Olympics ended, the franchise had saved enough cap space to bring her back on a prorated salary but she chose to rest instead of playing.

Pair the uncertainty with the cap situation and it makes sense as to why the Mystics chose Hines-Allen, 25 years old, over Meeseman, 28 and Charles, 33. Meeseman sat out the entirety of the 2018 and 2021 WNBA seasons.

The timing of Hines-Allen being able to hit the free-agent market - even as a restricted free agent - and Charles also being unsigned all led to tough decisions for the Mystics. A different year and the situation might have played out in another manner.

Meesseman was originally drafted in the second round by Washington in the 2013 WNBA Draft. She played seven of her possible nine seasons with the Mystics. Nearly all of them she was a starter and arguably the best player on the roster until Elena Delle Donne was acquired in 2017. Meesseman came off the bench in only her rookie season and during the Mystics championship season in 2019.

That year she averaged 17.8 ppg while shooting 57% in the WNBA Finals, along with 4.6 rpg. She became the first player to win the award while coming off the bench.

Assuming Meesseman plays the full season, her first contest against her former team will be May 22 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.