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Breanna Stewart says returning to Seattle Storm always the plan

Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm announced a deal for a signature shoe with sports brand Puma.
Julio Aguilar
Getty Images
Breanna Stewart will return to the Seattle Storm for a seventh season after signing a one-year deal worth $228,094.

Breanna Stewart felt for a short time like she was back in high school, being recruited by several WNBA franchises curious if she would take advantage of her first dip into free agency.

Stewart said she knew all along her destination would be a return to Seattle, where she was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft.

“From what I’ve heard, free agency hasn’t always been like that. We don’t always have meetings and go see places and things like that,” Stewart said during a press conference on Thursday. “But it was just an opportunity for me to kind of see what other organizations are doing, whatever franchise, and then compare it back to Seattle.”

Stewart ultimately opted to stay with the only WNBA franchise she’s every played for after signing a one-year, supermax deal worth $228,094 with the Storm last week. But her decision to return wasn’t without trepidation among fans after word leaked of Stewart taking meetings, especially one with New York.

Stewart said the deal is only for one year in part to keep options open — balancing her WNBA career with opportunities and a desire to play overseas while maximizing her earnings and marketing potential. The league’s collective bargaining agreement has prioritized players focusing on the WNBA and less on overseas opportunities in the future.

“In ideal world, I would like to be able to play in the WNBA and overseas as much as possible because I have a reach in both communities, in the European game, in the Euro League, and in the WNBA,” Stewart said.

The 27-year-old Stewart will be in her seventh year with the Storm. She was drawn back to Seattle by familiarity with the city, the moves the Storm made trying to put together another championship roster and the chance for one more run alongside 41-year-old Sue Bird.

Seattle lost in the second round of last year’s WNBA playoffs, with Stewart a spectator due to injury. Stewart had surgery to repair and reinforce her left Achilles tendon in October.

She said the disappointment in missing out on the playoff loss was amplified by the unknown of whether it was Bird's last game.

“Just really grateful to have another opportunity to step on the court with her because there was moments after last season where I didn’t know if we were going to have another moment or if she was going to be done,” Stewart said.

Along with Stewart, the Storm are bringing back Jewell Loyd, signed veteran Briann January and traded for Gabby Williams from Los Angeles. Bird will eventually sign but only after Seattle has made the moves it sees as necessary to have a title-contending roster.

Stewart is also excited about the franchise returning home. The Storm have been nomads for the past three seasons, winning the 2020 title in the WNBA bubble in Florida. They also played the 2019 and 2021 seasons at venues around the Puget Sound region while the former KeyArena was reconstructed into Climate Pledge Arena. Stewart’s last game in the old building was Game 2 of the 2018 WNBA Finals.

Her first regular-season game back in the building — which Stewart toured for the first time on Thursday — will be May 6 when Seattle faces Minnesota.

“Obviously, understanding that the arena has been under renovation for a while and having to be patient with those type of things, and really appreciating Everett for hosting us,” Stewart said. “But Seattle is our home and, obviously, is the part of the sports city that we have here and can’t wait to be back.”