The WNBA is investigating allegations that the defending champion Las Vegas Aces circumvented the league’s salary cap by making under-the-table payments to players, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
The news was first reported by The Next.
According to The Next, the Aces have been accused of arranging calls with potential signees, either free agents or current players negotiating extensions, in which they would be offered “a specific amount of money from a particular, pre-selected company. The work involved would be negligible.”
Such a practice would appear to be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement by getting around the league’s hard salary cap.
The Aces have been under fire in recent weeks after former player Dearica Hamby accused the organization of “unprofessional and unethical” treatment surrounding her pregnancy “that … has been traumatizing” in a social media post following her trade to the Los Angeles Sparks. A WNBA spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that the league is investigating those allegations as well.
The Aces have not responded to a request for comment from ESPN.
Under new coach Becky Hammon and with apparent momentum following the acquisition of the team by new owner Mark Davis, Las Vegas earned the franchise’s first WNBA title this past summer by defeating the Connecticut Sun in the Finals. In the offseason, they signed two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker and standout defender Alysha Clark to play alongside two-time MVP A’ja Wilson, Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and all-WNBA selection Kelsey Plum.