Sparks reunite Jasmine Thomas with coach Curt Miller in major trade

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks made their first significant offseason move by trading with the Connecticut Sun for former All-Star point guard Jasmine Thomas and the 10th overall pick in April’s WNBA draft.

The Sparks traded away three young players: center Olivia Nelson-Ododa, forward Jasmine Walker and the reserved rights to guard Kianna Smith. The trade is pending physicals, the team announced Monday.

On Saturday, the Sparks can begin negotiating with free agents across the league, including their own unrestricted free agents: Nneka Ogwumike, Kristi Toliver, Chiney Ogwumike, Brittney Sykes, Jordin Canada and Lexie Brown.

The Sparks currently have only four players under contract for the 2023 WNBA season: guard Chennedy Carter, forward Katie Lou Samuelson, guard/forward Rae Burrell and the newly acquired Thomas.

However, the team still has nearly $1 million in available salary cap room, according to HerHoopStats.

The 33-year-old Thomas is a 12-year WNBA veteran who missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in her right knee in May.

The 5-foot-9 guard played the past seven seasons in Connecticut under Curt Miller, who in October became the Sparks’ new head coach.

“I have had the pleasure of coaching Jasmine for my entire professional head coaching career and know she will be an incredible addition to this team and the culture we are building in L.A.,” Miller said. “Her knowledge of the game and her ability to lead a team both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor is something that will be invaluable to us.”

Been singing Reunited this morning . @jaszthomas @LASparks

— Curt Miller (@CurtMillerWBB) January 16, 2023

During that time with Miller in Connecticut, Thomas was named to the 2017 WNBA All-Star team, the WNBA All-Defensive First Team from 2017-19, and the WNBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2016 and 2021.

Over her career, the former Duke star has averaged 9.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 358 games with Washington, Atlanta and Connecticut.

They don’t know what’s coming.

See you on the court, @jaszthomas.

2017 WNBA All-Star
3⃣x WNBA All-Defensive First Team
2⃣x WNBA All-Defensive Second Team#LetsGoSparks

— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) January 16, 2023


Meanwhile, Nelson-Ododa, who graduated from UConn, was drafted by the Sparks in the second round in 2022. In 30 games with the Sparks last season, she averaged 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game.

Smith, a Riverside native who graduated from Troy High in Fullerton, was also drafted by the Sparks in the second round in 2022. In 11 games with Sparks last season, she averaged 2.6 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists.

Walker was selected by the Sparks with the seventh overall pick in the first round in the 2021 draft but missed most of her rookie season after tearing her ACL in her right knee. In 34 games for the Sparks over two seasons, she averaged 1.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game.

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After Monday’s trade, the Sparks now hold the 10th, 14th and 26th overall picks in the 2023 draft.

“The trade with Connecticut puts us in a great position going into free agency as we were able to secure a veteran point guard and add a first-round pick,” Sparks General Manager Karen Bryant said. “We are grateful for the time that we had with Olivia, Jasmine and Kianna and thank them for their contributions to the Sparks. We wish them all the best as they continue to grow in this league.”

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