Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon has been suspended for two games without pay for violating league and team workplace policies, the WNBA announced Tuesday. Las Vegas will also lose its 2025 first-round draft selection.
Hammon’s suspension follows an WNBA investigation into claims made by former Aces forward Dearica Hamby, who said the team discriminated against her for getting pregnant after she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in January.
“Being traded is a part of the business. Being lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against is not. I have had my character and work ethic attacked,” Hamby wrote in a January Instagram post. “I was promised things to entice me to sign my contract extension that were not followed through on.”
The league’s news release stated: “The team violation involved promises of impermissible benefits in connection with negotiations for an extension of then Aces player Dearica Hamby’s player contract. The Respect in the Workplace violation was related to comments made by Hammon to Hamby in connection with Hamby’s recent pregnancy.”
Hamby signed a two-year contract extension with the Aces in June. She said she was accused of signing the extension while knowing she was pregnant, which she denied in her post.
“This is false,” Hamby wrote. “I was told that I was ‘a question mark’ and that it was said that I said I would ‘get pregnant again’ and there was a concern for my level of commitment to the team.”
Hamby, who announced her second pregnancy following the Aces 2022 WNBA Finals victory in September, added that the team believed she would not be ready to play this season.
“I planned to play this season, and I have expressed my desire to play this season,” Hamby said in January.
“I have pushed myself throughout my entire pregnancy and have continued to work out (basketball included) on my own and with team staff – even on days where it was uncomfortable to walk, only to be inaccurately told that ‘I was not taking my workouts seriously.’”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement that it was “critical that we uphold the values of integrity and fairness, which create a level playing field for our teams.”
“The Aces failed to adhere to league rules and regulations and have been disciplined accordingly,” added Engelbert.
“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.”
‘Penalty is far from appropriate’
Meanwhile, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) said the WNBA penalties had missed “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?” said the WNBPA in a statement.
“Incidents of misconduct by a team or 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 has never been done in the League’s history, it penalizes a future player by removing an opportunity to compete for a job.
“We will continue to support our member as she considers the League’s decision and explores all available remedies.”
The 2023 WNBA regular season begins Friday.