LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is providing a $100,000 annual sponsorship to each Aces player for this season and 2025.

The WNBA is investigating whether the sponsorships are allowed.

This isn’t the Aces first run-in with the league over the last few years. Last year, the WNBA suspended Aces coach Becky Hammon for two games and took away the Aces’ 2025 first-round draft pick because the franchise violated league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

The sponsorship does not violate the WNBA’s salary cap because the Las Vegas authority did not orchestrate it with the club. But other teams are likely to raise questions about the fairness of the sponsorship and whether it violates the spirit of the cap rules.

The authority posted a video on X of president and CEO Steve Hill telling the players in the locker room the news on Friday.

“The Aces have been on an historic run — two-time world champions,” Hill said on the video before informing the players. “We’re here to do something historic with them, too.”

The players were thrilled by the move.

“The city of Vegas I’ve always said, it’s a big small town and they just want the best for the people here,” point guard Chelsea Gray said before the Aces’ home game Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks. “They’re investing in us and so they put their money where their mouth is. We’ve done so much for the city and having fun doing it.

“It was a great moment for me and my teammates, of somebody actually putting funds behind, saying that they’re supporting and they want to have our back.”

According to the website Spotrac, which tracks player salaries, the sponsorship is higher than the earnings of six Aces players.

“Definitely more than my salary,” said rookie Kate Martin, who makes $67,249, according to the website. “I’m super thankful. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, but this is very much real life and that is what all these players deserve. I wouldn’t be getting this crazy bonus if it weren’t for how great all of these players have played in the last few years.”

The $100,000 also is a big addition even to what the top players make. A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum are the highest-paid Aces at $200,000 each and Gray is right behind at $196,267.

“(For) the LVCVA to see our value and to help close that pay gap, it says a lot about the character of the people that are there,” said Alysha Clark, whose salary is listed at $110,000. “So I’m extremely grateful. I’m honored to be able to represent this organization and this city and be able to put on for the city, give back to this city and pour into the community, and that’s what they did for us. It was really, really special.”


Breanna Stewart led five New York Liberty players in double figures with 24 points during a 91-80 cruising past the visiting Indiana Fever on Saturday afternoon.

The Liberty made 15 baskets from 3-point range in their home opener, helping overcome rookie Caitlin Clark’s 22 points and eight assists for the Fever.

Jonquel Jones supplied 14 points and 12 rebounds, Betnijah Laney-Hamilton pumped in 13 points, Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points and Courtney Vandersloot added 10 points for the Liberty.

The Liberty (3-0) beat the Fever (0-3) for the second time in three days, both by blowouts.

Clark, who was charged with eight turnovers, shot 9 of 17 from the field, including 4 of 10 on 3-pointers. Clark never attempted a free throw in a contest in which Indiana committed 16 turnovers.

Kelsey Mitchell’s 17 points, Aliyah Boston’s 12 points and NaLyssa Smith’s 11 points and eight rebounds helped Indiana.

Clark had 10 first-quarter points, so that eclipsed her total for the entire game from Thursday night. The overall No. 1 draft pick out of Iowa had more room to operate at times than in the first meeting of the season, but the Liberty still paid close attention to the young guard.

Indiana finished shooting 41.3 percent from the field, including 9-for-26 on 3-pointers.

Stewart went 8-for-8 at the free-throw so she outscored the Fever on foul shots. Indiana was 5-for-6.

The Liberty’s lead ballooned to 44-24 about 3 1/2 minutes into the second quarter with an 11-2 run. While the gap grew to as many as 23 points, the halftime score was 57-37.

Indiana ended up outscoring New York 21-16 in the third quarter, but trailed 73-58 going to the fourth quarter. After Mitchell’s 3-pointer opened the fourth-quarter scoring, the Liberty took over again.

Stewart posted the next four points on free throws and Laney-Hamilton drained a 3-pointer and Jones scored on a short jumper, pushing the margin to 82-61 with about seven minutes to play.

Jones, Vandersloot and Ionescu all delivered five assists.


Jackie Young and A’ja Wilson each had 22 points and a double-double as the Las Vegas Aces held off the visiting Los Angeles Sparks for an 89-82 victory Saturday.

Wilson scored 12 in the third quarter after the Aces (2-0) closed the first half on a 17-1 run to lead by nine at the break. She finished with 10 rebounds. Young added 11 assists and drilled a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining in regulation after the Sparks (0-2) got within 86-82.

Former Ace Dearica Hamby had 29 points, on 12-of-16 shooting, and nine rebounds for the Sparks, who shot 51.5 percent but committed 17 turnovers. L.A. allowed Vegas to make 13 3-pointers.

Paced by two baskets from Kia Nurse (13 points) and consecutive 3-pointers from rookie Rickea Jackson (13 points), Los Angeles used a 12-2 run to lead 32-25 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half.

However, the Aces found their form after starting 9 of 30 to score 17 of the final 18 points of the first half.

Young knocked down a 3 and Alysha Clark’s own triple tied the game at 32-32. Wilson’s bucket with 2:09 left in the second quarter put the Aces ahead.

Back-to-back 3s from rookie Kate Martin and Wilson extended the Aces’ run to 15-0 and their lead to 40-32 before Hamby ended the Sparks’ drought with a free throw. A pair of free throws from Kelsey Plum (17 points) put Las Vegas ahead 42-33 at the half.

Wilson posted two three-point plays and scored off a steal to give the Aces a 58-48 lead in the third. A Young 3 put Las Vegas up 77-64 early in the fourth, but a 10-2 run from the Sparks made it a five-point contest with under 5 minutes remaining.

Four points from Hamby highlighted a 6-0 spurt that got Los Angeles to 84-80 with 2:35 to play before Wilson stepped up with a basket. Hamby scored again before Young’s 3 iced the game for Vegas.

Los Angeles’ Cameron Brink, the second overall draft pick last month, had three points, eight rebounds and five blocks.


Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 38 points, including 26 in the second half, to lead the Phoenix Mercury to an 88-85 victory over the visiting Atlanta Dream on Saturday night.

The victory is the first for new Mercury coach Nate Tibbetts, who was hired during the offseason after spending nearly two decades coaching in the NBA and G League.

Phoenix (1-1), coming off a season-opening loss against the host Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, scored seven unanswered points to take an 86-83 lead with 38.7 seconds left in the game.

A 3-pointer by Sophie Cunningham and a driving layup by Copper capped the run.

Cheyenne Parker-Tyus made a hook shot to cut the Dream’s deficit to 86-85 with 35.7 seconds remaining.

Copper, who also finished with six rebounds, then made a layup with 20.6 seconds left. Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard missed a 3-point attempt with 6.6 seconds to go as the Mercury held on.

Atlanta went on an 18-2 run in the fourth quarter, with Allisha Gray scoring 10 of those points, to go up 78-72 with 4:11 remaining after trailing by as many as 12 in the first half.

Gray finished with 22 points and six boards, while Howard had 21 points and nine rebounds. Parker-Tyus added 18 points and six rebounds.

Copper scored 16 of her points in the third quarter, when Phoenix built an 11-point lead.

The Mercury did not trail until Atlanta went on its game-turning run in the fourth quarter. Phoenix was in front at 70-60 with 8:43 remaining in the fourth following a layup by Morgan Bertsch before the monster run by the Dream.

Copper had 12 first-half points to help the Mercury take a 43-37 edge into the break.

Diana Taurasi, playing in her 20th season in the WNBA, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. She has spent her entire career with Phoenix.


Diamond DeShields scored 16 points and Marina Mabrey added 14 to lead six players in double figures and help the visiting Chicago Sky to an 83-74 win against the Dallas Wings on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Arike Ogunbowale drilled six 3-pointers among her game-high 35 points for the Wings, who led by as many as 14 but were outscored 28-11 in the fourth quarter.

Chicago earned a season-opening split with Dallas. The teams also met at the College Park Center on Wednesday night, with the Wings prevailing 87-79.

Saturday’s matchup saw the Sky flip the script as first-year coach Teresa Weatherspoon earned her first victory. Chicago struggled to find offensive consistency throughout the night but rallied to take a 67-65 lead on an Angel Reese three-point play with 6:29 to go.

Dallas had surged ahead 65-58 with 8:51 left but went cold after that, enduring a scoring drought of 5:14. The Sky scored 14 straight points during that span.

Elizabeth Williams posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago. Dana Evans and Chennedy Carter also scored 12 points. Reese added 11 points to go with nine rebounds. Mabrey added eight rebounds and eight assists.

Chicago scored 34 points off 25 Dallas turnovers.

Kalani Brown (11 points) was the only other Wings player in double figures.

Dallas played without veteran Natasha Howard after she fractured her foot Wednesday. Howard didn’t feel pain in the foot until after the game, Wings coach Latricia Trammell said. Stephanie Soares entered the lineup for Howard on Saturday, contributing nine rebounds and four blocks.

The Wings took a 42-30 lead into halftime after limiting the Sky to 28.2 percent shooting, including 1-for-9 from long range, before the break.

Ogunbowale led all scorers with 16 points, proving efficient from both long range (3-for-6) and the free-throw line (5-for-5).

Chicago appeared to trim the lead to eight with 1:22 left before the half on a would-be corner trey from Evans. Officials ruled that Evans stepped out of bounds, however. An Ogunbowale trey moments later shifted the momentum back to Dallas.