Brooklyn Boro

Liberty reload to run it back for 2024

Signings and re-signings invigorate New York's title chase

February 22, 2024 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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There’s never a true offseason when you’re chasing a championship.

Whether its Sabrina Ionescu battling Steph Curry during a first-of-its-kind 3-Point Shootout during NBA All-Star weekend, the Liberty re-signing former WNBA Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones or adding guard/forward Kennedy Burke via free agency.

New York lost a tough series to repeat champion Las Vegas last Fall, suffering a heartbreaking 70-69 loss to the Aces before a record crowd at Downtown’s Barclays Center in Game 4 of the Finals.

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The Liberty haven’t stopped their pursuit of the franchise’s first-ever crown just because they have to wait until May 14 to tip-off their new season in Washington, D.C.

Just ahead of NBA All-Star weekend last Friday, the Liberty brought back Jones on a two-year pact after she hit unrestricted free agency.

The 2021 MVP as a member of the Connecticut Sun joined fellow returnee Breanna Stewart, who is expected to ink a one-year pact this offseason, in guiding New York to its first Finals appearance since 2002.

Jones averaged 11.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per contest in her first year in Brooklyn. She was even better in the playoffs, putting up 16.8 points, 11.6 boards and 2.4 rejections.

Though they missed out on free agent Nneka Ogwumike, who wound up in Seattle, the Liberty made sure their core remained intact after they pushed Vegas to the brink of a winner-take-all Game 5.

Having Ionescu, Jones, Stewart, Betnijah Laney and league assists leader Courtney Vandersloot back on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush this coming summer gives New York a legitimate chance not only to repeat as Eastern Conference champions, but to overtake Vegas for the title.

Getting Jones to re-sign was a high priority for Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb, who watched coach Sandy Brondello get the most out the All-Star cast he put together.

“We are overjoyed to welcome back JJ,” Kolb said in a team-issued statement.

“In just one season, she became an indelible part of the Liberty’s core identity, on and off-the-court, and keeping her in seafoam was our first priority in open free agency as we continue our championship pursuit in 2024.”

Ionescu, the league’s reigning All-Star shootout champion and most prolific and productive long-range bomber from a season ago, gave Curry all he could handle in Indianapolis last weekend during NBA All-Star festivities.

She buried 18-of-27 shots, including her first seven from beyond the arc, but watched as the NBA’s all-time 3-point king stage a late rally to edge her 29-26.

“Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we do this,” said Ionescu, who set a WNBA record with 37 points during her shootout performance last season.

Steph Curry edged Liberty sharp-shooter Sabrina Ionescu in a first-of-its-kind 3-point shootout during All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. AP Photo by Darron Cummings

Ionescu might have some back-court help off the bench next year after Kolb announced the signing of Burke out of the EuroLeague on Tuesday.

The 6-1 slasher from UCLA has logged 92 games in the WNBA with Indiana, Seattle and Washington since being selected 22nd overall in 2019.

“Kennedy is a versatile player who will play multiple positions for us,” said Kolb. “Her length, athleticism, skill, and passion have made her one of the very best players in EuroLeague, and she will be an important addition to our group.”

Though its almost three months away, the Liberty are already selling tickets for their home opener, individual game tickets and season plans at Barclays Center for this much-anticipated season opener.

New York will host Indiana in its home opener on May 18.

To learn more and view additional ticketing options such as group tickets and partial season plans, fans can visit


The Nets (21-33) will restart their season Thursday night in Toronto with interim coach Kevin Ollie at the helm following the All-Star break firing of Jacque Vaughn.

Brooklyn went 8-23 following a 13-10 start to drop to 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

It will be 2 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the East’s final spot in the play-in tournament when it hits the floor against the Raptors (19-36), who are trying to avoid an 0-4 homestand.

The Nets suffered back-to-back losses to league-leading Boston ahead of the break, including an embarrassing 50-point defeat in Beantown.

Kennedy Burke signed to play in New York Tuesday as she hopes to help the Liberty get past Las Vegas and win their first championship. AP Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

Brooklyn topped Toronto, 115-103, at Barclays on Nov. 28 behind 22 points from Mikal Bridges, who was one of the players most vocal about the Nets’ sense of urgency to make a push for the playoffs over these final 28 regular-season games.

“You got to be ready,” Bridges said Tuesday. “Obviously, it’s tough but you know, (the) main goal is to win. So we (have) to keep going, keep the main goal the main goal.”

The Nets signed guard/forward Jaylen Martin to a two-way contract Wednesday. The 6-foot-6 G-Leaguer averaged 15.0 points for the Westchester Knicks before joining the Brooklyn roster.

After visiting Toronto, the Nets will stay on the road to face Western Conference-leading Minnesota Saturday, Memphis on Monday and Orlando Tuesday.

Brooklyn will return to our borough Feb. 29 to open a potentially critical two-game set with the 10th-place Hawks.

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