New York Liberty forward Jonquel Jones, guard Marine Johannes, forward...

New York Liberty forward Jonquel Jones, guard Marine Johannes, forward Breanna Stewart and guard Courtney Vandersloot wait to enter a game against the Phoenix Mercury. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The goal was to bring home first prize for the first time.

But the Liberty finished one point behind the shorthanded Las Vegas Aces in Game 4 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals Wednesday night and lost the series three games to one.

This remade team still turned in the winningest regular season in franchise history at 32-8.

Now it’s about how to secure that elusive crown, especially with the Aces figuring to be strong again, and likely healthier, next season.

Here are four questions heading into the offseason:

Will Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones be back for an encore?  

Stewart took her second WNBA MVP award in her first year with the Liberty, averaging 23 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists. She posted four games with at least 40 points.

The 6-4 forward shot just 35.8% over the 10 playoff games, including 19.6% on threes. She missed 14 of her 17 attempts overall in Game 4. But her postseason numbers still came in at 18.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Jones, meanwhile, was clearly the Liberty’s postseason MVP.

The 6-6 center, who was the 2021 WNBA MVP, averaged 17 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks across the three rounds. Jones had only six points in Game 4, but she wrecked the Connecticut Sun in the Game 4 semifinal clincher with 25 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

Stewart chose to sign with the Liberty and Jones decided she wanted the Sun to trade her here after last season. Both can be unrestricted free agents.

GM Jonathan Kolb isn’t sweating over re-signing them.

“No, I don’t think that’s a concern,” Kolb said. “We’ve done things the right way here. I think we’ve made this a place to play, and I think they’re very proud to be members of the Liberty.”

What is the biggest need for this team?

Sabrina Ionescu and point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who will turn 35 in February, struggled at both ends at times in the Finals, especially in the first two games in Las Vegas. They were outplayed by the Aces’ athletic and gritty guards.

Marine Johannes was too streaky with her outside touch to consistently count on off the bench.

Adding another athletic, tough guard to the mix would surely help. Washington Mystics point guard Natasha Cloud and Connecticut shooting guard Tiffany Hayes are both that type of player and can be unrestricted free agents.

Can the draft help?

The 2024 draft will be loaded with talent. There should be plenty of options even though the Liberty currently have the 11th overall pick, which is second to last in the first round.

One option, if she’s still available, could be Jacy Sheldon. Ohio State’s 5-10 fifth-year shooting guard was listed as a potential selection for the Liberty in's early mock draft last month. She has a good reputation at both ends.

What else could they use?

The Liberty could use more depth up front. Forward Kayla Thornton has signed an extension, but center Stefanie Dolson can also be an unrestricted free agent. 



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