Dupree says it was time to move on from Sky
If anyone was going to be a Chicago Sky lifer, you figured it would be Candice Dupree.
Four years ago, the blue collar forward out of Temple was the first draft pick in the expansion Sky's franchise history.
Each summer, her role as the cornerstone of the team became more and more solidified, and in 2009, she was honored with a starting spot in the WNBA All-Star Game.
Dupree was, without question, the face of the franchise, here and around the league.
"I never thought I'd see the day that I wouldn't be in a Sky uniform," Dupree said Tuesday.
Well, that day is coming. And soon.
Late Monday night, reports circulated that Dupree was in the center of a three-team trade that would send her to Phoenix and two players from the New York Liberty - all-star Shameka Christon and Catherine Kraayeveld - to the Sky. On Tuesday, Dupree and the Sky confirmed the news.
She will be in Phoenix today to be introduced as the newest member of the Mercury, the defending WNBA champion.
Phoenix initiated the deal by sending former Chicago prep star and WNBA all-star Cappie Pondexter to New York, which is a homecoming of sorts for the former Rutgers star.
The Liberty also gets the Sky's second-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the upcoming WNBA draft.
"I'm going to miss the fans and the city and my teammates," Dupree said. "But, as a player, I wasn't content (in Chicago). I wasn't happy. It was time to move on, and I was the one who asked for the trade."
Dupree says that she desperately wants to win a WNBA championship and that she was getting antsy waiting for the Sky to simply earn its first playoff berth in franchise history. The Sky has gotten close the last two summers but fumbled away the opportunity in the closing days of the season.
"I wanted to go somewhere I felt like I could compete for a championship right away," said Dupree, who averaged 15.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season. "This wasn't personal. I love my teammates to death. I really like (Sky coach and general manager) Steven Key as a person. He's a nice guy. This was strictly business."
As a restricted free agent, Dupree had been listening to offers from other teams ever since the free-agency signing period began in February.
Phoenix was one of those teams, and when movement on Pondexter got serious, so did Dupree's desire to leave the Sky.
The Sky wanted to retain Dupree and was willing, and had the right, to match any other offers she received. But knowing the intensity of Dupree's feelings to move on, the Sky instead elected to defer to her wishes and try to get quality players to replace her while the offers were still on the table.
"It's disappointing when something like this doesn't work out," said Key, who enters his third year as coach and general manager. "It's weird changing such a key person like this, someone you think will be that lifer.
"But in the end, I think this will be a good thing for the Sky moving forward."
The Sky gets a highly respected small forward in Christon, a 6-year veteran who averaged 16.1 points per game and, like Dupree, is a part of the USA Basketball national team pool that will feed the 2012 Olympic team.
Kraayeveld averaged 9 points per game last season and is a bruising, physical power forward who also has a soft touch beyond the arc.
"We think we got two really good players for one really good player," Key said. "I'm really excited about these players and about where we go from here."