For Alyssa Thomas, 'Never a doubt' she would re-sign with the Connecticut Sun
'The Engine' remains in Connecticut
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On Feb. 2 the Connecticut Sun announced that Alyssa Thomas signed a multi-year contract to remain in Connecticut. A league source tells The Next Thomas’ deal runs four seasons, beginning at $200,000 in 2021 and rising $6,000 in 2021, 2022 and 2023. This new contract comes in the wake of Thomas’ Achilles tendon injury that led to her Jan. 19 surgery.
“Despite the recent injury, it was important to show our loyalty for all that Alyssa Thomas has done for our franchise,” general manager and head coach Curt Miller said.
Thomas said on a media call that she would not be having shoulder surgery while she recovers from surgery on her Achilles.
Her return should come as no surprise to Sun fans; during the 2020 season DeWanna Bonner said that Thomas would not be leaving the team.
Throughout her time with the team, Thomas has had her eyes set on bringing a championship to Connecticut and the decision to return was an easy one for her.
“I don't think there was ever a doubt in my mind that I was coming back to Connecticut,” Thomas said.
Thomas has spent her entire career with the Sun after being drafted by the New York Liberty in 2014 and traded to Connecticut on draft night.
“I’m very happy to be continuing my career with the Sun. What we have been able to accomplish over the last few seasons have been really, but the job isn’t done. I’m going to do everything I can to help bring home a championship for this team, our fans and the Mohegan Tribe,” Thomas said.
Over the last two seasons, Thomas established herself as the top facilitating forward in the WNBA. In 21 games last season, she averaged a career-high in points (15.5), rebounds (9.0), assists (4.8) and steals (2.0) per game. She was also a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, leading the league in steals per game and finishing second in the league in rebounds per game.
“AT is a great player and certainly spearheads the way we play, we create a lot of our offense around her skill set. We scheme our defensive approach around her multi-faceted ability to guard so many different positions and impact the game at the defensive end,” Miller said.
As good as Thomas has been in the regular season, she reaches another level in the postseason. In eight postseason games in 2019, she averaged 16 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. In 2020, she averaged 18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals in seven postseason games, including Game 2 of the semifinals in which she left the game after five minutes with a shoulder injury.
Thomas is preparing for her role on the sidelines this season, something that could be her first step in a future career in coaching.
“I think with this injury, it gives me time to see the game in a different way,” Thomas said. “You're always on the court or watching video, but now I get to watch the game and just look at it in a different aspect and I think it will definitely help if I do want a future in coaching.”
While Miller would prefer to have Thomas on the court, he is excited for the opportunity to get Thomas’ perspective from the sideline, calling her one of the smartest basketball minds he has coached.
“Her mom coaches. She's been around great coaches her whole career. And so we look forward to have AT in that role, hearing what she's seeing. I think it'd be good for her to really understand behind the scenes what we do in our preparation,” he said.
Miller added, “She'll be in a little bit less of an emotional state, when she's not playing and can relay and talk to our players from a player's perspective, what she's seeing, so really, really looking forward to having AT’s knowledge of X’s and O’s around.”
Thomas wants to spend the rest of her career in Connecticut, a place where her name is filling up the record books. She is fifth all-time in regular season games played, fourth in total rebounds (1,361), fifth in points (2,352) and fifth in assists (608).
“I love Connecticut, I love the organization, I love the team,” Thomas said. “And although there is a new CBA, I think for me it's about culture, the team, and we started something there. So for me it's not really about moving around and trying to get the best contract, but I'm about loyalty and I don't like change and I'm happy where I am.”