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Breanna Stewart thinks this will be the biggest WNBA free agency yet

The Seattle Storm superstar talked about NBA 2K22, free agency, her latest injury, and playing overseas.

Associated Press for American Express

Over the past 14 months, since returning from her torn right achilles, Breanna Stewart has won: a WNBA title and Finals MVP, a Russian league title, a Euroleague title and Final Four MVP, an Olympic gold medal, and the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup and Commissioner’s Cup MVP.

So it was a shock to the system when Stewart’s mortality came into play as she suffered a minor achilles injury in her other foot in October, missing the Seattle Storm’s final two regular-season contests and their only 2021 playoff game, a single-elimination overtime loss to the Phoenix Mercury.

Stewart is now rehabbing this latest injury, which required minor surgery in October and has prevented her from heading over to Russia to play with UMMC Ekaterinberg. In the interim, she is preparing for her first foray into unrestricted free agency as a WNBA player as several high-profile players around the league, including her teammates Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd and 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, hit the open market.

Over the weekend, Stewart partnered with NBA 2K22 and AMEX for an event that brought elements of the game to life. After facing off against LA Clippers star Paul George in 2K, she spoke with SB Nation about her offseason.

Stewart and George played a WNBA battle as the Storm vs. the Chicago Sky and then switched to NBA as Stewart played with the Milwaukee Bucks against George’s Clippers.
Associated Press for American Express

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

SB Nation: Are you much of a gamer?

Breanna Stewart: I am, I play 2K sometimes, but especially when I’m overseas, I have my — I don’t have the PS5 overseas, I have PlayStation 4 still in my Russia apartment. Just because when you’re 13 hours time difference away from everybody else, it’s hard to connect, so I have a lot of time for gaming. Yeah, obviously as 2K continues to kind of grow and bring the WNBA into the game, have to play.

SBN: Who do you usually like to play with other than yourself?

BS: Other than myself? Well, I like to play with myself, but if I’m playing on the men’s side, I think that I prefer to play with the Nets, prefer to play with KD, but I went with a different approach today when I played with the Bucks.

SBN: I feel like KD’s game style makes a lot of sense with the way you play too.

BS: Yeah (Editor’s note: Stewie got creamed with Bucks and probably should have stuck to her guns and picked the Nets)

SBN: How did you get involved with AMEX and this partnership?

BS: Getting involved with the AMEX experience and the NBA 2K22 event — I’ve been a part of, I guess, the 2K family for a while and being an AMEX card holder kind of brought all these things together and made me be able to continue to have another opportunity off the basketball court where I’m still around a lot of basketball and a great event.

SBN: Yeah, I think I saw you at the Warriors-Clippers game earlier this year. You’ve been around LA during your offseason?

BS: Yeah. So I’m actually rehabbing here in LA. This is where I rehabbed when I came back from my my first achilles, and now I’m just with the people that I trust. It was great to be able to get out and go to a Clippers game, just be out and watching basketball. I feel like I haven’t done that in a while. And it was nice to just kind of watch someone else play instead of having to think about playing.

SBN: How is the foot doing?

BS: Doing really well. I’m really happy that I’m out of the boot, I’m back into two shoes. It’s nice to be able to kind of walk and move around somewhat normally. And I’m just hoping that as we continue after the holidays, I’ll be starting to ramp back up to get back on the court.

Stewart’s back in two shoes and hopes to rejoin UMMC Ekaterinberg (her Russian team) before the 2022 WNBA season.
Associated Press for American Express

SBN: So are you still planning on going to Russia this year or no?

BS: It’s TBD. I think that you know it just depends on exactly how much I progress in the next couple of months. If I could go, I would love to go — you know, that’s my team, and my teammates and stuff like that, but I don’t want to have like a date if I’m gonna be ready or not.

SBN: How does that experience of playing there compare to the WNBA? What’s the biggest difference?

BS: Playing in Russia compared to the WNBA is — I mean, the biggest difference is the fact that you’re in Russia, you’re overseas, you’re missing holidays, things like that, you’re away from family, but the love for the game is still the same. Still super competitive, especially now being able to, like they’re able to travel through Europe again, whereas last year we were in bubbles. But you get to experience all different types of places, meet a lot of different people. And you know, I enjoy going overseas, and that’s why it kind of sucks that I’m not right now, but hopefully I will be later.

SBN: You guys have a pretty exciting offseason this year in Seattle. I mean, I don’t expect you to tell me what you’re gonna do next year. But do you think all of the free agency movement is good for the WNBA?

BS: Yeah, I think that — I was telling someone I think that this year, this free agency is probably gonna be the biggest free agency since our new CBA. Obviously, right when we had our new CBA, that free agency was huge. But now it seems like there’s a lot of big names that are up and see if there’s gonna be any movement within teams and stuff like that, but I’m excited. I can’t believe it’s coming up. And this is my first time as a free agent, so I have no idea what to expect, but it’ll be cool to kind of see what happens.

SBN: It’s kind of exciting to be have teams wooing you right? You get to be recruited all over again.

BS: Yeah, exactly. It’s like recruiting, so some exciting and some not so exciting parts about that.