Sports | April 21, 2022 2:36 pm

Reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones Will Still Play Overseas Despite Brittney Griner Situation

"I have to think about the financial status of my family," says the star

Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun handles the ball against the Washington Mystics
Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun handles the ball against the Washington Mystics.
G Fiume/Getty

Reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, who averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks last season en route to claiming the award, plans to continue playing overseas in the offseason despite what she has seen happen with fellow star hooper Brittney Griner in Russia.

A member of the Connecticut Sun in the States, Jones plays for Russian superteam UMMC Ekaterinburg overseas, as does Griner. While not specifically saying she would return to suit up for UMMC Ekaterinburg, which is owned by a multibillion-dollar company, Jones did say she wants to continue playing international basketball when that becomes an option.

“I’m going to have to deal with it,” Jones said in an interview with ESPN. “Because I feel like while the league is making the right and necessary strides to pay us more and ensure that if we don’t want to go overseas, we don’t have to, I just feel like in my situation, the money is not comparable. I have to think about the financial status of my family and everybody else and also the opportunities that I’m leaving if I don’t go.”

The comments from Jones contradict WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert saying recently that the narrative WNBA players have to play abroad to make ends meet is a “little outdated and inaccurate” and the commish may have had a point. In February, Jones signed a deal that is worth $416,150 over the two years. Compared to an NBA player, that’s chump change as the league minimum for The Association is $925,000. However, compared to what an average American makes in a year — $51,480 based on 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data — an annual salary of $208,075 is actually pretty good.

That being said, if Jones can really bank what she makes in a season playing in the WNBA playing for Ekaterinburg for a month as ESPN reported, it is pretty tough to fault the 28-year-old for wanting to take her game overseas in the offseason. However, given the current climate and what the lasting attitude toward foreigners may be in Russia once the Ukraine invasion is over, Jones may be better served playing in Turkey, China or Australia instead of suiting up for Ekaterinburg again.

“I would say probably when I’m leaving the league, players probably won’t have to do it, players of my caliber who are going to make that top dollar overseas, they’ll have the options to stay here and make the same money,” Jones said. “But I don’t think I’ll see it in my career. I hope so.”

For her sake, especially given what is happening with Griner, we hope so too.