WNBA rescinds Las Vegas Aces’ 2025 first-round draft pick for violating league rules; suspends Becky Hammon for two games

Las Vegas Aces response

The WNBA announced the following today:

The WNBA announced today that it has rescinded the Las Vegas Aces’ 2025 first-round draft pick for violating league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and suspended Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon for two games without pay for violating league and team Respect in the Workplace policies.

Due to a prior trade, Las Vegas does not have a 2024 first-round draft pick.

The team violation involved promises of impermissible benefits in connection with negotiations for an extension of then Aces player Dearica Hamby’s player contract.  The Respect in the Workplace violation was related to comments made by Hammon to Hamby in connection with Hamby’s recent pregnancy.

After a complaint by Hamby on January 21, 2023, alleging misconduct by the Aces, the league began an investigation.  The investigation included interviews with 33 people and a review of numerous texts, emails and other documents.  During the course of the investigation, several individuals raised additional concerns about the conduct of the Aces during the most recent free agency period.  The investigation was not able to substantiate any of those additional concerns.

“It is critical that we uphold the values of integrity and fairness, which create a level playing field for our teams,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “The Aces failed to adhere to league rules and regulations and have been disciplined accordingly.  We are also disheartened by the violation of our Respect in the Workplace policies and remain committed to ensuring that enhanced training is conducted and standards are followed across all WNBA teams.”

The Women’s National Basketball Players Association responded with the following statement:

The League had an opportunity to send a clear message that it abides by and protects the provisions of the CBA, particularly those that we were most proud of – the provisions meant to support player parents. Today’s decision regarding penalties, however, misses the mark. Where in this decision does this team or any other team across the League learn the lesson that respect in the workplace is the highest standard and a player’s dignity cannot be manipulated?

Incidents of misconduct by a team or team staff cannot always be compared, but recent penalties imposed by the League, and an honest view of the facts, demonstrate that this penalty is far from appropriate. While taking away a future draft pick is significant and has never been done in the League’s history, it penalizes a future player by removing an opportunity to compete for a job.

We will continue to support our member as she considers the League’s decision and explores all available remedies.

Las Vegas Aces Response

The Las Vegas Aces are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the WNBA investigation. We are committed to supporting all our players to the fullest extent allowed by the WNBA. Our actions have always been consistent with our responsibility to hold ourselves to the highest professional standards, and the facts we presented were consistent with these standards. The well-being of our players and their families has and will always be at the forefront of who we are.

The WNBA’s determinations about Becky Hammon are inconsistent with what we know and love about her. Becky is a caring human being who forges close personal relationships with her players. We stand behind Coach Hammon as she continues to lead the Las Vegas Aces.

As expected, the facts did not demonstrate that the Aces violated the salary cap by paying players “under the table” or acted impermissibly during the 2023 free agency period.

We look forward to continuing to support our players, coaches, employees, and the Las Vegas community.

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