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Mystics pursuing trade to acquire Elena Delle Donne from Sky

Published reports indicated the Mystics have offered their first-round pick this year, No. 2 overall, and all-star center Stefanie Dolson to the Sky for Delle Donne.

Those familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing, would not confirm the specific terms being discussed. Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault also declined to comment.

Delle Donne, a 2016 Olympian regarded as among the best players in the world, is a restricted free agent, allowing the Sky to match any offer. The 6-foot-5 guard-forward, however, has expressed a strong desire to play closer to her home in Delaware, even saying she would be willing to sit out part of the 2017 season to facilitate a trade.

WNBA free agency began Jan. 15, but deals do not become official until Feb. 1, the first day players are permitted to sign. Blockbuster deals are uncommon in the WNBA, given league-wide financial limitations, although two years ago center Sylvia Fowles, a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, forced a trade from Chicago to the Minnesota Lynx by sitting out the first half of the season.

Fowles was named WNBA Finals MVP in 2015, when the Lynx won the championship for the third time in five years.

Delle Donne helped the Sky reach the playoffs, including the 2014 WNBA Finals, in each of her four seasons in the league. In 2015, she averaged 23.4 points to win the WNBA scoring title in addition and set career highs with 95 percent free throw shooting, 8.4 rebounds and two blocks per game.

This past season, Delle Donne averaged 21.5 points, the second-most in the league, before injuring her right thumb in a 118-81 loss to the Mystics on Sept. 7, 2016. Shortly thereafter she had season-ending surgery, forcing her to miss the final 10 games.

Other injuries that have limited Delle Donne include a concussion and a sore back. She also has missed significant time because of Lyme disease, both as a professional and at the University of Delaware.

Still, Delle Donne would be the highest-profile player to join the Mystics since they drafted Chamique Holdsclaw No. 1 overall in 1999. Delle Donne was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft. That year the Mystics were in the draft lottery and landed the No. 4 pick, selecting Tayler Hill after Brittney Griner, Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins were off the board.

The Mystics finished 13-21 this past season with an injury-depleted roster after losing in the first round of the playoffs in each of the previous three years. They have not advanced beyond the first round since 2002.

The Sky, according to people familiar with the negotiations, initially had expressed an interest in acquiring Emma Meesseman, but Thibault has been unwilling to part with her. Meesseman was a first-time all-star in 2014 and has not missed a game in her four-year career.

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