LOS ANGELES — Jordin Canada said she would like to re-sign with the Sparks if the opportunity presents itself when the WNBA free agency period begins on Saturday at 9 p.m. PT.
“Of course,” said Canada, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. “That’s where I’m from. That’s always been a dream of mine to play for L.A. and I got that opportunity last year. God willing, I’ll be able to stay another year with L.A. but you never know what could happen so I’m just letting the opportunity present itself with whatever happens in free agency, whether that’s in L.A., whether that’s somewhere else. I’m just trying to explore my options but ultimately I’m from L.A. so I would love to stay in L.A.”
Canada, 27, a former Windward High and UCLA star, was the fifth overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm. She helped the Storm win WNBA championships in 2018 and 2020 and earned a spot on the 2019 WNBA All-Defensive First Team. She signed a one-year deal with the Sparks last February.
The 5-foot-6 point guard started 25 of the 32 games she played in for the Sparks last season. She averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 27 minutes per game for a Sparks squad that had the second-to-worst record (13-23) in the 12-team league and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“It was one of those seasons where we had to fight through it,” Canada said. “We went through a lot of adversity last year, a lot of moving around with coaches and things like that and I think we tried our best at the end of the day. We fought until the end. We were right there. We were only a couple of games from missing the playoffs, so honestly, despite what we went through, I think we still fought hard. We still played hard. It was just one of those seasons where you just go through a lot of things. I think we finished doing our best so that’s all I can say.”
The 2023 WNBA season doesn’t begin until May 19, but offseason transactions are in full swing ahead of Feb. 1, the day when players can officially sign contracts and offer sheets.
Jonquel Jones, the 2021 MVP has already landed with the New York Liberty in a blockbuster three-team trade. Former first-round draft picks Jasmine Thomas, Allisha Gray and Natasha Howard – have also been traded, and everyone is waiting to see where 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart, largely regarded as the top free agent, ends up.
Canada is an unrestricted free agent, which means she’s free to negotiate a new contract with any WNBA team beginning Saturday night.
“I want to go somewhere where I can show and play and have an opportunity to show my leadership and my growth over the last couple of years,” she said. “I just want to have fun and compete and play hard. That’s what I’m looking for and to have a relationship with my teammates on and off the court as well and have a relationship with the coaches, so that’s what’s really most important to me. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to show that.”
Canada said the last couple of years have been really “crazy” when it comes to player movement – via trades or free agency – across the league.
“I’m always kind of expecting something crazy to happen and we’re already off to a good start with the trades that have been happening so far,” Canada said. “It’s just interesting to see players move around and what teams are going to look like, so I already know that this free agency is going to be super interesting. It’s already been interesting so I take it for what it is and that’s pretty much it.”
Canada believes newly-acquired Jasmine Thomas is a great addition to the Sparks.
“I know Curt (Miller) and Jas(mine Thomas) have a great relationship with each other. They’ve been with each other for (several) years and she’s a great asset to a team,” Canada added. “She’s very valuable. She can play defense. She’s a tremendous leader so I know she’s going to add a lot of value to the Sparks. I’m super happy for her and excited for her to be in L.A. I know she’s coming off of an injury so I’m super excited for her to get back and I’m just happy she’s able to have an opportunity to play in L.A. and also continue playing with Curt.”
Heading into her sixth WNBA season, Canada believes she has the talent and experience to be a full-time starter.
“I think at this point in my career, I feel very confident in myself that I can come in and start and be a leader on a team,” she said. “I’ve been playing behind one of the greatest point guards (Sue Bird) and got to learn from her in the first four years of my career. Then last year being in and out of the lineup, I think so far in my career, all that I’ve learned and experienced with being a starter and coming off the bench, I feel very confident that I can come in and I can lead a team and be a starter.”
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Canada said she first realized basketball was a global game back in high school. That’s when she truly began absorbing the domestic and international opportunities to play professional basketball, and now she is giving back.
Canada joined fellow WNBA players Ariel Atkins and Danielle Robinson earlier this week to mentor and develop teenage girls at the 2023 NBA Academy Women’s Camp Latin America in Mexico, which brought together some of the top high school-age prospects from countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.
“I’m happy to see the growth (in the young players),” Canada explained during a virtual interview from Mexico. “Their smiles, always willing to learn and (they’re) taking what we say and really applying it to the scrimmages and to the drills, so it’s really special what we’re doing here.
“Some players pick things up quicker than others. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Everybody learns at a different pace, so it’s really just about the person and the individual and how they can pick things up quickly. Here at the camp, there’s been a lot of girls who are already very skilled enough and just taking the little things that we say, whether it’s dealing with footwork, whether it’s dealing with better passing, whether it’s getting into your shot pocket a little bit quicker. They’re able to pick it up pretty quickly. These girls are super talented.”
Canada said working at an international development camp is additional motivation for her to begin hosting her own “Jordin Canada Academy” youth basketball camps in the future in her hometown.
“That is the goal in the future,” Canada continued. “I do want to have something like that in the states and hopefully I will be blessed enough to do something internationally (as well). I’ve been thinking about that actually the last few years, so hopefully, it will come into fruition. That’s on my radar.”
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