Storm reward All-Star center Ezi Magbegor with contract extension

SEATTLE -- The Storm have signed All-Star center Ezi Magbegor to a contract extension, the team announced Tuesday. Magbegor, a first-time All-Star in 2023 who currently leads the WNBA with three blocks per game, would have been an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Before the Storm's news release went out Tuesday afternoon, Magbegor gave her teammates a heads-up on the extension after their shootaround, as shared by the organization on social media.

"I was a bit nervous," Magbegor told reporters before Seattle's 80-62 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. "I don't like being the center of attention. You saw the video. But I wanted to tell them before it got announced and I think that's a credit to the teammates that I have. I feel like we share each other's successes really well, and that's something I wanted to share with the team. I wouldn't be here without them, so I was really happy."

Magbegor debuted for the Storm's 2020 championship team, a year after the franchise drafted her with the final pick of the 2019 first round. The native of Australia increased her minutes and points per game in each of her first four seasons, culminating in last year's All-Star selection.

She attributed her decision to extend her contract in part to the commitments previously made by teammates Jewell Loyd -- who signed a two-year extension last season -- and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who signed through 2025 as a free agent. Additionally, Magbegor cited the team's newly opened basketball performance center, which serves as its practice facility.

"I think there's been a lot of investment obviously in the facility," Magbegor said. "Just the professionalism of this team, I think, has really leveled up. That's something I just want to be a part of it. Jewell committed for two years. Sky's committed. The team's committed, so I'm committed as well."

Having experienced a taste of free agency in 2023, when she re-signed with Seattle on a two-year contract as a reserved free agent able to negotiate only with the Storm, Magbegor admitted being wooed in free agency next offseason was tempting. However, she didn't need to go through that experience to decide where she wanted to play and was ready to pass on free agency.

"It's a huge relief," Magbegor said. "Normally I procrastinate with decisions, but there wasn't a reason for me to do it. I knew this was where I wanted to be and I was ready to commit."

Negotiations between Magbegor and Seattle started before the season, but it was only during the team's stretch of days off following the Storm's win Thursday at Indiana that she said she got serious about the possibility of an extension, after focusing on her play.

An All-Defensive second-team pick in both 2022 and 2023, Magbegor's blocks per game average would be the highest for a WNBA player since Brittney Griner averaged four in 2015. She's also averaging a career-high 8.6 rebounds during the Storm's 6-3 start.

HerHoopStats.com reported that Magbegor's extension is worth $186,000 for one year, the largest possible raise off her current salary in an extension.

Magbegor confirmed that she added one season to her contract because of the possible increase in the WNBA's hard salary cap in 2026, when the league's collective bargaining agreement could be up for renegotiation and new national TV contracts will kick in.

"I think that's always something in the back of your mind," Magbegor said. "A one-year is a smart decision for me but also the organization as well."