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Pondexter heads to NY in big WNBA deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Cappie Pondexter was thrilled to be reunited with some old friends.

The All-Star guard was acquired by the New York Liberty as part of a major three-team trade with the Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky on Tuesday.

Pondexter averaged 19.1 points last season in leading the Mercury to the WNBA title. The 27-year-old will join her 2008 Olympic basketball coach Anne Donovan and former Rutgers teammates Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn.

"I'm excited to be playing on the East Coast again along with Anne Donovan and a few Rutgers players," Pondexter told The Associated Press in an e-mail from Russia, where she was playing with UMMC Ekaterinburg. "It's definitely a dream come true and I'm excited to get started on our quest to be the best team we can possibly be this season!"

The Liberty sent forwards Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld to the Sky in the megadeal. New York also receives Chicago's second-round pick in the 2010 WNBA draft, and Phoenix guard Kelly Mazzante. The Mercury gets Candice Dupree from Chicago.

"The Liberty is thrilled to have acquired Cappie Pondexter, one of the top players in the world, in what is truly a franchise changing acquisition," president and general manager Carol Blazejowski said in a release. "Rarely do you get the opportunity to trade for a player of this magnitude, as Cappie is a proven winner with championship experience and a perennial WNBA All-Star."

Christon led New York in scoring last season, averaging 16.1 points, and was recently added to the USA basketball national team pool. Kraayeveld averaged 9.0 points last year and was one of the team's best 3-point shooters. Both had spent their entire careers with the Liberty; Christon was drafted in 2004 out of Arkansas and Kraayeveld from Oregon in 2005.

New York opens the regular season against Chicago on May 16. The Liberty are at Phoenix on July 3, and host the Mercury on August 14.