Atlanta Dream made Parker an offer she couldn’t refuse

Chicago Sky forward Cheyenne Parker (32) sets up for a shot during the first half of a  first-round playoff game against the Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Chicago Sky forward Cheyenne Parker (32) sets up for a shot during the first half of a first-round playoff game against the Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Cheyenne Parker wasn’t planning to leave Chicago. After the Sky drafted her with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Parker has played all six of her WNBA seasons in Chicago.

But after setting career highs in nearly every statistical category in 2020 — including minutes per game, shooting percentage and points per game — Parker started hearing offers from other teams in the league that far outweighed what the Sky were offering.

After hearing offers from a few other teams, Parker signed a three-year, fully protected deal with the Atlanta Dream on Monday.

“I found out that I actually had a much higher worth than what I was being offered with Chicago,” Parker said Tuesday. “Once I realized that and I heard there were a few other teams interested, I did weigh my options, obviously. However, Atlanta was a no-brainer as far as all the other teams that were offering.”

Parker went to high school in Atlanta before moving to North Carolina to finish high school and still has family and friends in the area. Off the court, she’s interested in entrepreneurship and is drawn to the growing Black-owned business population in Atlanta, as well as the opportunities in movie production in the area. Moving to Atlanta felt like a natural fit, and that’s without even considering the basketball aspect.

On the court, Parker is the kind of player that Dream coach Nicki Collen has been trying to find for the past two seasons — a player that can bring a physical presence in the post and also can stretch the floor with perimeter shooting ability.

“We targeted Cheyenne for two reasons: one, her ability to finish at the rim, and two, her ability to knock down the three,” Collen said in a statement. “Cheyenne has shown growth in her game year after year and we believe will only continue to get better. Her toughness, desire to compete, and her joyful attitude will only strengthen our roster. I’m thrilled she chose Atlanta.”

“She just really emphasized that something they’ve lacked for a few years is just a very dominant post presence, having scorers off the block or passing the ball in the block,” Parker added. “… That excited me because it’s kind of like that’s my bread and butter. And then she also mentioned that she’s looking for a post player that can spread the floor and create space for the guards to do their thing because of the type of guards that we have. That’s something that I also can bring to the team. It was really exciting to hear the type of things that she’s looking for because it’s exactly what I can bring.”

The Dream have made the playoffs just once under Collen, and it was in her first season in 2018. But Parker and the Sky have made the playoffs in four of Parker’s six seasons, so she brings playoff experience to Atlanta — and she feels confident that the Dream are in position to contend.

“I’ve already ready so many articles,” Parker said. “There’s always going to be articles that come out and give you that fuel, that doubt the team. I’ve already read just about how, are we ready to be a playoff-contending team? And there’s no question in my head about that. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

Parker already has been in communication with her new teammates and plans to move to Atlanta relatively soon after she comes back from France, where she’s been playing in the offseason, and moves out of her place in Chicago. Dream guards Tiffany Hayes and Courtney Williams are signed to the same agency as Parker, so Parker has some familiarity already with her new team.

“I sent a mass text to everybody saying the same thing,” Parker said. “(I said) ‘I’m looking forward to meeting you all and playing with you ladies and let me know when you’re in town so we can get in the lab and start making some chemistry.’ … Everyone’s been very welcoming. They added me to the group chat so it’s official, I’m on the squad now.”