Storm make free agency splash with veteran Dupree

Indiana Fever photo.

In what she called her first active exploration of free agency, 15-year veteran Candice Dupree wasn’t interested in any rebuilding efforts. It wasn’t about garnering a max contract, either.

“I’m just looking to go out with a bang,” she said.

Ultimately, the seven-time All-Star felt her best chance at another title was to join the reigning champs.

The Storm announced Dupree’s signing Monday, their first new addition in an already eventful offseason that has seen the team lose defensive stalwart Alysha Clark to the Mystics, and veteran forward Crystal Langhorne to retirement (and a new position in the front office). Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“Candice brings championship experience and has been an impact player in the WNBA during her entire career,” Storm CEO and General Manager Alisha Valavanis said in a release.

After spending the past four seasons as one of the few veterans on increasingly youthful Indiana Fever teams, Dupree joins an experienced Seattle roster that is anchored by 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart and two-time All-Star Jewell Loyd. Veteran Sue Bird is also expected back for another season, but her return has not been officially announced by the team. The franchise has exclusive negotiating rights with 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Natasha Howard as well, after designating her as a core player.

That supporting cast is a far cry from her teammates in Indiana, which had taken to calling their veteran leader “Mama Candice.” Monikers aside, her experience with the Fever did allow Dupree to develop a different part of her game.

“Playing with a younger group in Indiana definitely helped me come out of my shell,” she said, adding her time with Indiana forced her to be a more vocal leader on the court.

But with little help around her, the team won just 34 games over her four-year tenure, missing the playoffs each season. In the abridged 2020 campaign, Dupree averaged just over 12 points and nearly six rebounds a game, as the Fever limped to a 6-16 record in the “wubble.”

She enters a radically different situation in Seattle, where she’ll now be tasked with replacing some of the production lost with the departures of Clark and Langhorne, on a team with title aspirations.

“I’m looking forward to playing with a group of vets with a high basketball IQ and winners,” she said.

Dupree said she’s spoken with head coach Dan Hughes about her role, and expects to see the floor alongside second-year center Ezi Magbegor, providing some insight into how the team plans to approach its low-post rotation.

While Dupree’s addition fills a sizable need on the roster, Seattle still has several roster questions to address this offseason. Sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb remains a free agent, and Howard’s contract situation following the core designation is unresolved. Latvian guard Kitija Laksa is expected to come stateside after being taken with the 11th pick in last year’s draft, and the Storm will pick from that position again this spring.