It’s been anything but a normal offseason for Sydney Wiese.
Sure, it’s been a strange offseason for everyone, but how many people managed to both contract COVID-19 and sign a contract extension?
Still, for Wiese, it’s been a series of adjustments, something she’s excelled at while becoming — as she said, almost to her surprise — a WNBA veteran now.
“ I have written in my planner the games for the summer, and then now I’ve been writing plans over those games obviously because they’re not happening,” Wiese told reporters during a conference call this week. “So it definitely was such a bittersweet day because that was also when the announcement happened for my contract extension.”
That extension — two years, $162,400 — means she can remain with the Sparks through 2022. It is a non-guaranteed deal, which limits the risk for Los Angeles, but the real limitation of risk comes from the game of Wiese herself.
Oversized for their position players who contribute at both ends are rare, and Wiese is, at her core, a three-and-D type. She hit 36.6 percent of her threes last season, while finishing 15th in the WNBA, per Synergy, in defensive points per possession, minimum 200 possessions, in 2019.
Even with a new collective bargaining agreement that allows for greater freedom of movement, though, Wiese said she didn’t want to test the open market anytime soon, once Los Angeles offered her the chance to stick around.
“Loyalty is a big thing for me,” Wiese said. “So for them to extend this opportunity within itself, to show their commitment, their belief, and how they value me and what I can bring to the table, it shows a lot. They didn’t have to offer that to me, they didn’t have to offer a contract extension. I find a lot of pride representing the Sparks organization, so there really wasn’t a desire for me to expand or look anywhere else.”
She’ll provide a baseline of support and experience for newcomers to Los Angeles, including her former teammate at Oregon State, Marie Gülich, “my German sis”, Wiese calls her.
She said she’s feeling great after beating that mild case of COVID-19, an effort she took public to help spread accurate information about the disease and its dangers.
“I wanted to use my story and my experience to connect with others who might be going through a similar thing to bring more of a steady approach to everything that was going on,” Wiese said.
With that behind her, it’s now it’s about settling into a routine, different as it may be. Wiese is trying to focus on the positive.
“Obviously, not being able to be in person with everybody and actually playing basketball, it’s a different feel for virtual training camp,” she said. “But I think that it’s been a different level of depth we’ve been able to reach getting to build that camaraderie through these meetings as a group, but also we’ve had a couple meetings just as the team so we can get to know each other as people, more so than, you know, the camps have been full of terminology, our principles, our foundation for defense and offense. But it’s cool to have that opportunity as well to get to know each other as people.”