The Sparks made their second trade of the offseason Saturday, acquiring forward Dearica Hamby and a 2024 first-round draft pick from the Las Vegas Aces.
Hamby, the sixth player of the year in 2019 and 2020 before growing into an All-Star in 2021 and 2022, has spent her entire eight-year WNBA career with the Aces franchise after getting drafted by the team when it was in San Antonio in 2015. She signed a two-year contract extension before last season. Starting 32 of 34 regular-season games last year, Hamby averaged 9.3 points per game, her fewest since 2018, and 7.1 rebounds. A knee injury limited her to 8.7 minutes in six postseason appearances as the Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Finals.
At the Aces’ championship parade, Hamby announced she was expecting her second child, and her pregnancy appeared to cause a rift between the WNBA veteran and the organization.
In a statement on Instagram on Saturday, Hamby wrote she was “heartbroken” about the way her tenure in Las Vegas ended, accusing the Aces of bullying, manipulation and discrimination. She wrote members of the organization failed to follow through on promises used to entice her to sign the contract extension, questioned her commitment to the team after getting pregnant and told her she “was not taking [her offseason] workouts seriously,” despite working with team and personal trainers throughout her pregnancy.
“I remained transparent with everyone within the organization, and yet, my honesty was met with coldness, disrespect and disregard from members of management,” Hamby wrote. “The unprofessional and unethical way that I have been treated has been traumatizing.”
After Hamby’s statement, the WNBA Players Assn. announced it will “seek a comprehensive investigation to ensure that her rights under the collectively bargained provisions of the 2020 CBA, as well as her rights and protections under state and federal law, have not been violated.”
Hamby, whose 5-year-old daughter Amaya was a staple on the Aces’ social media accounts as she followed her mother through the season, said during an interview with Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports last year that she was due in March and intends to return for the season. The Sparks tipoff May 19 against the Phoenix Mercury at Crypto.com Arena.
Hamby also expressed appreciation for the Sparks, general manager Karen Bryant and head coach Curt Miller for their sincerity in the trade process.
“We’ve had very open conversations with Dearica about her journey to becoming a mother again,” Bryant said in a statement. “We fully support her and her family as they make a major life transition to Los Angeles. We are thrilled to have her as part of our Sparks family and look forward to caring for her as she prepares for childbirth and a safe and healthy return to the court.”
Zahui B. missed last year’s WNBA season because the Sparks put her on the suspended list. Then-general manager Derek Fisher cited visa issues and overseas duty that would have kept Zahui B. out of the country for the first third of the season for suspending Zahui B.’s contract. Fisher had also just signed forward Liz Cambage as a free agent. Cambage quit the team in July, one month after Fisher was fired.
In 2021, Zahui B. averaged a career-high 9.2 points for the Sparks with 5.1 rebounds. She has continued playing overseas in Turkey.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.