Two major pieces of the Mercury 2023 puzzle have finally been added.
Brittney Griner & Diana Taurasi have re-signed with Phoenix.
Griner on a one-year deal & Taurasi on a multi-year extension.
Even though both their returns were expected, Mercury faithful took a collective sigh of relief when pen hit paper.
Each for their own reasons.
While every summer, Taurasi sees rumors and questions swirl around her possible retirement, she stays as steady as ever.
“Diana Taurasi belongs in a Mercury uniform,” Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman said. “The way she prepares her body, how much she cares about winning, and how much she cares about our franchise – on and off the court – are just a few of the things that make her a transcendent athlete and quite literally the greatest of all time. We look forward to more accolades, more historic moments, and more wins.”
Not only has she shown a commitment to Phoenix, but also her country.
Most recently, she participated in the USA Basketball minicamp (along with PHX teammate Brianna Turner).
Well he wasn’t joking😂
Taurasi told the @AP that the 2024 Paris Olympics is “something that’s on my radar.” 👀 https://t.co/iEXbdmOqB8
— Eliav Gabay (@eliavgabay) February 7, 2023
As far as Griner’s signing – it’s as meaningful a contract as the league has seen.
During her wrongful detainment in Russia, reports surfaced that she didn’t even want to pick up a basketball out there.
In those conditions – who would?
This signing means she’s truly back home and doing what she loves again.
“We missed BG every day that she was gone,” Pitman said. “While basketball was not our primary concern, her presence on the floor, in our locker room, around our organization, and within our community was greatly missed…This is a special signing.”
Pitman’s plan is coming to fruition.
The Mercury acquired 2021 Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere in a deal that sent Diamond DeShields to the Dallas Wings.
Phoenix also added guards Moriah Jefferson and Sydney Wiese.
Here’s what the roster looks like as of 2/24/23:
#Mercury roster update:
C Brittney Griner
C Megan Gustafson
F Brianna Turner
F Michaela Onyenwere
G-F Sam Thomas
G-F Sophie Cunningham
G Diana Taurasi
G Skylar Diggins-Smith
G Jennie Simms
G Shey Peddy
G Moriah Jefferson
G Sydney Wiese@Sports360AZ#WNBATwitter
— Eliav Gabay (@eliavgabay) February 22, 2023
Taurasi is set to make $234,936 next season and Griner will be at $165,100; together, they combine for about 35% of the team’s salary cap (according to Spotrac.com).
Phoenix can still fill an extra eight roster spots ahead of training camp (20 players is max. for training camp, 12 is max. for regular season).
As the WNBA Draft approaches on April 10, Pitman and his staff will have the 27th and 29th picks (third round) to work with.
Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard has at least eight returning players on the training camp roster as her squad looks to develop chemistry on and off the court.
This time, Nygaard will have both Griner and Taurasi to lean on – quite the luxury heading into her second year at the helm.