NEW YORK – JANUARY 16, 2023 – The New York Liberty announced Monday that the team has acquired 2021 WNBA MVP, Jonquel Jones, from the Connecticut Sun and veteran forward, Kayla Thornton, from the Dallas Wings in a three-team trade.
In the multi-team deal, Dallas acquired forward Natasha Howard and reserved rights to guard Crystal Dangerfield from New York, while Connecticut received guard Rebecca Allen, the Liberty’s No. 6 draft pick in 2023, and Dallas guard Tyasha Harris.
“Adding Jonquel and Kayla to our roster in the prime of their careers was a can’t-miss opportunity to bolster our frontcourt on both ends of the floor,” said Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb. “JJ brings an established MVP skill set, and Kayla possesses a rare combination of defensive physicality and offensive spacing. We can’t wait to welcome them to the Liberty family and get to work on pursuing our championship goals.”
Jones (29), a 6-6 forward, joins the Liberty after a six-year campaign with the Connecticut Sun where she ascended into one of the league’s top players after being drafted No. 6 overall in 2016 from George Washington.
Highlighted by her 2021 WNBA MVP Award, Jones garnered several prestigious accolades including four WNBA All-Star appearances (2017, 2019, 2021-2022), three All-WNBA Second Team honors (2017, 2019, 2022), three WNBA Peak Performer Rebounding titles (2017, 2019, 2021), two All-Defensive First Team nods (2019, 2021), the 2017 Most Improved Player Award, and the 2018 Sixth Woman of the Year.
A native of Freeport, Bahamas, Jonquel averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game while converting on a combined 51.1% shooting from the floor and 37.7% from three across her six seasons. Through 196 total regular season contests, including 149 starts, JJ powered the Sun to a combined record of 126-70 (.643).
Thornton (30), a 6-1 forward and seven-year veteran, joins the Liberty after a six-year tenure with the Dallas Wings. An alumna of Texas-El Paso, Kayla has appeared in 194 regular season games, including 132 starts, where she compiled career averages of 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting to a 41.2% overall field goal percentage.
Kolb continued, “We can’t thank Bec, Tash, and Crystal enough for their contributions to the Liberty organization throughout their respective careers in New York–both on and off the court.”
Joining the Liberty in 2015, Allen spent seven seasons in New York for a total of 158 games, 40 of which were starts. During her tenure, Bec posted averages of 5.7 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 38.4% from the field, 36.9% from distance, and 82.9% at the free throw line. Her 110 career blocks rank seventh all-time in franchise history, while her 145 three-pointers made rank tenth. Additionally, the Melbourne, Australia native became the second-ever Liberty player to eclipse career marks of 100+ steals, 100+ blocks, and 100+ three-point field goals, as well as the quickest player to do so at 150 games.
“Bec made a lasting impact on the Liberty organization throughout her seven years here,” said Kolb. “She has been with this franchise through ups, downs, relocations, and transitions, yet her professionalism and effort never wavered. We wish her the absolute best in her next chapter with Connecticut where she will undoubtedly flourish in an expanded role.”
Howard, a nine-year WNBA veteran, three-time WNBA Champion, two-time All-Star, and the 2019 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, guided New York to two consecutive playoff berths in her two seasons with the Liberty. Natasha was tabbed a 2022 WNBA All-Star and averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 rebounds across 48 contests, all of which were starts.
“Tash played a tremendous role in repositioning this franchise as a playoff contender,” said Kolb. “It was truly special to see a three-time WNBA Champion take a chance on us and embrace the challenge of elevating a young core to the extent that she did.”
Dangerfield joined the Liberty backcourt last season, initially under hardship contracts, and later signed a rest-of-season contract on July 3. With New York, the 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year made a career-high 27 starts in 30 appearances with averages of 5.5 points, 2.6 assists, and two rebounds per contest.
“Crystal’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and should be in this league for a very long time,” stated Kolb. “She immediately steadied our offense, provided pace and efficiency, and became a clear difference-maker in our playoff pursuit last season.”
Kolb added, “We wish Tash and Crystal continued success as they join the Dallas Wings organization.”
Details of the Liberty’s introductory press conference for Jonquel Jones and Kayla Thornton are forthcoming. Season tickets and group packages for the Liberty’s 2023 season are now on-sale at nyliberty.com.