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Mystics agree to deal with Brittney Sykes, move on from Alysha Clark

Brittney Sykes, pictured in 2021 with the Sparks, agreed to a multiyear contract with the Mystics. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
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The Washington Mystics reached an agreement with free agent guard Brittney Sykes on a multiyear contract, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed Sunday.

Sykes will come to Washington after spending the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, with whom she was named to a WNBA all-defensive team each year. WNBA teams cannot officially sign free agents before Wednesday. The Next Hoops first reported the agreement.

After adding Sykes, the Mystics planned to move on from forward Alysha Clark, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. The two-time WNBA champion, 35, was the Mystics’ marquee signing before the 2021 season but missed all of that year with a foot injury and did not return to her pre-injury form in 2022. She and the Las Vegas Aces reached an agreement Sunday night, the Next Hoops reported.

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Sykes, who turns 29 in February, brings versatility to the perimeter as a 5-foot-9 player who can handle point guard, shooting guard or small forward. She averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season as she showed an ability to create offense off the dribble. The Mystics needed another playmaker on the perimeter but also hoped to improve their three-point shooting. Sykes has struggled in that area; she is a 28.9 percent career shooter from behind the arc. But defense is her forte. She led the WNBA in steals in 2022 and 2021; she was named first-team all-defense in 2021 and second-team all-defense in 2022 and 2020.

Sykes was the No. 7 draft pick in 2017 out of Syracuse. She played three seasons with the Atlanta Dream before being traded to Los Angeles.

The addition of Sykes improves one of the WNBA’s best defenses. The Mystics allowed 75.9 points per game last season, fewest in the league.

Washington entered free agency with the seventh-most salary cap space, per Spotrac. The Mystics met with 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart in Istanbul when the free agency negotiating period began, but multiple people with knowledge of the situation said Stewart will not sign with Washington. Multiple reports have her choices narrowed to the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm. The Mystics also looked into trading for guard Allisha Gray, but she moved from the Dallas Wings to the Atlanta Dream.

Also, the Mystics made qualifying offers to guards Rui Machida and Jazmine Jones, and guard Evina Westbrook signed a training camp contract.