Jones headed to the ‘Big Apple’; looking to bring championship to New York
After six productive years together, Bahamian women’s professional basketball player Jonquel ‘JJ’ Jones and the Connecticut Sun are parting ways.
Jones was dealt to the New York Liberty in a three-team trade on Sunday. The move was made official late Sunday. According to reports, Jones listed the Liberty as her preferred destination.
In her six years with the Sun, Jones led the team to two appearances in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Finals, is just two years removed from a Most Valuable Payer (MVP) season and is a former most improved player and sixth woman of the year in the league.
The Liberty have suddenly entered the championship picture in the WNBA, adding Jones to a lineup that includes 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu and former league most improved player and All-Defensive First Team member Betnijah Laney.
In the three-team deal, Connecticut receives the number six pick in the draft as well as Rebecca Allen from New York and Tyasha Harris from Dallas. The Dallas Wings get Natasha Howard and Crystal Dangerfield from the Liberty, and Kayla Thornton heads to New York also.
Jones bid farewell to the Connecticut on Instagram.
“We’ve share so many memories together. Our journey started at the 2016 draft where a young 22-year-old woman would hear her name called in the same arena where she would make countless memories. I have done amazing things in my career, all while proudly wearing Connecticut across my chest,” she said. “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to move on and begin the next chapter of my W career. I would like to take this time to thank the Mohegan Tribe, the Sun’s front office, my teammates and of course the incredible fans because without any of you I would never be the player and person that I am today. Please know that Connecticut will always have a special place in my heart and that I am forever grateful for my time as a member of such a great organization.”
After a dominant season in 2021, Jones received 48 of 49 first-place votes for the WNBA MVP Award, finishing one vote shy of a unanimous selection. She led the Sun to the league’s best win/loss record at 26-6, including a 15-1 home record at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. That year, Jones averaged a double-double at 19.4 points – fourth-best in the league – and a league-best 11.2 rebounds per game. She shot 51.5 percent from the field.
A year after turning in arguably the greatest season by a Bahamian athlete in history, Jones took a step back in 2022. She averaged 14.6 points on 51.3 percent shooting from the field while adding 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, and finished seventh in the MVP voting. However, she did manage to lead the Sun to a second WNBA Finals berth in four years where they lost to the Las Vegas Aces three games to one.
Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb told the Associated Press that they are thrilled to add Jones and Kayla Thornton to their roster.
“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,” he said. “JJ brings an established MVP skillset, 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 expressed excitement on Twitter. She is looking to bring a championship to New York.
“To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement. To the fans, future teammates and everyone who has welcomed me to New York, thank you. I can’t wait to get this season going and show out in the ‘Big Apple’,” she said.
Jones had one year left on her contract with the Sun. The 6’ 6” four-time all-star is excited to bring her talent and experience to New York and is looking forward to doing her part to transform that team into a WNBA powerhouse. The Liberty have lost in the opening round of the playoffs the last two seasons.
With Jones, the Sun came within a game of winning the WNBA title in 2019, losing to the Washington Mystics, and within two games of winning the title last year, losing to the Aces.