The WNBA rescinded the Las Vegas Aces‘ 2025 first-round draft pick and suspended coach Becky Hammon for two games following an investigation that found the franchise violated league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.
According to the league, which announced the penalties Tuesday, the team violation entailed promises of impermissible benefits during contract extension negotiations for former Aces player Dearica Hamby. The Respect in the Workplace violation stemmed from comments Hammon made to Hamby in connection to the latter’s pregnancy.
The Aces don’t have a 2024 first-round selection because of a prior trade.
The WNBA Players Association said in a statement that the league’s ruling Tuesday “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 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 had never been done in the League’s history, it penalizes a future player by removing an opportunity to compete for a job.”
The WNBPA added that it would support Hamby as she considers the WNBA’s “decision and explores all available remedies.”
Hamby, who this offseason was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks, took her allegations public, alleging in an Instagram post that her former organization treated her in an “unprofessional and unethical way that … has been traumatizing” due to her pregnancy. At the time she did not specify which member of the organization allegedly made disparaging comments.
The league investigated Hamby’s claims, as well as allegations of salary cap circumvention that came out shortly thereafter; the league said the investigation was not able to substantiate any of those particular allegations.
The WNBA’s investigation included interviews with 33 people and a review of numerous texts, emails and other documents, the league said.
“It is critical that we uphold the values of integrity and fairness, which create a level playing field for our teams,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “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.”