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Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury agree to multi-year extension

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury warms up before competing during the Skills Challenge of the WNBA All-Star Friday Night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Mercury have signed center Brittney Griner to a multi-year contract extension on Friday.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

“She’s in the prime of her career,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman told Doug & Wolf Friday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “She’s 29 years old, she’s been with us for 7 years now, which is really hard to believe.”

The move locks in a trio of WNBA All-Stars with Griner returning to join the league’s all-time leading scorer, Diana Taurasi, and new acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Griner was designated as a core player as her free agency began, giving Phoenix exclusive contract negotiating rights.

The six-time All-Star led the league by averaging 20.7 points per game last year. She also added 7.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 blocks per game.

Griner’s return isn’t unexpected.

“If I don’t play here, I won’t play anywhere, and I mean that I’m not playing for any other organization,” she said in September. “I’m a Phoenix Mercury until I’m done.”

The Mercury roster for 2020 took shape in a major way this week. Phoenix on Tuesday traded forward DeWanna Bonner, the fifth-best scorer in the league. She appeared in 335 games with Phoenix over 10 seasons, compiling 4,820 points, 2,072 rebounds and 705 assists.

Phoenix acquired the seventh and 10th overall selections in the 2020 WNBA Draft in the Bonner sign-and-trade to the Connecticut Sun. The Sun also dealt a 2021 first-rounder to the Mercury in the package for Bonner, setting up Phoenix to make the move for Diggins-Smith, a point guard who in 2018 averaged 17.9 points and 6.2 assists per game with the Dallas Wings.

The Mercury sent the fifth and seventh overall picks from the 2020 draft to Dallas to acquire Diggins-Smith, a player that Pitman called the “top priority” for Phoenix’s offseason plans.

Bonner, Phoenix’s first-round pick in 2009, wanted a fresh start, and her departure was part of adding Diggins-Smith.

“In our league, you really get to know the players very well, they become part of your family,” Pitman said. “We really we have a family at the Phoenix Mercury. She’s been a huge part of that, she was a two-time champion, a big part of what we did for many years. She wanted a fresh start.

“We wanted to help her get to where she wanted to be, but we also needed to do what was right for our organization. We were able to get the picks that we needed to to acquire Skylar Diggins.”

Diggins-Smith told The Associated Press last month that she didn’t want to play in Dallas anymore. The team gave her the franchise designation, meaning she couldn’t leave as a free agent.

Doug & Wolf