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Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA season started. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

The WNBA announced on Monday that the WNBA Players Association and the league have agreed on how it will return to competition.

The Phoenix Mercury will play 22 regular season games along with the traditional WNBA playoffs.

This strange season will take place at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players will live at the facility from the time training camps start in early July until their respective seasons end.

Although health protocols have not been announced, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a release that, “We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan.”

One factor that was important to players in negotiations before the two parties agreed on the plan was salary.

All players are going to receive their full pay and benefits. That was a key factor to these negotiations.

Phoenix, meanwhile, has been ready to play for a while. After the offseason acquisition of superstar guard , the Mercury were going to come into the season as one of the top contenders in the West.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, also newly acquired, said she couldn’t wait to get to work with the team and the “best big in the league” in Brittney Griner.

Last season, the Mercury went 15-19 and lost to the Chicago Sky in their single elimination game 105-76. The loss of DeWanna Bonner will hurt during this year’s shortened regular season, but the team has said it believes it is a contender.

Vince Kozar, the chief operating officer for the Mercury, told reporters that the team was glad negotiations worked out the way they did and that everyone is excited to get to Florida.

This isn’t the first major sports league making its way to Florida. Despite being a hotspot for COVID-19 cases, MLS, the NBA  and now the WNBA are all going to be either finishing or playing their seasons in the state.

Much like the NBA, there has been no confirmations from the WNBA on what would happen if a player tested positive for COVID-19 while participating in their league’s respective bubble.

Along with the current coronavirus pandemic, the WNBA is focused on social justice issues. Women’s National Basketball Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike said in a release that this is an important time for the league because it has a greater platform now more than ever.

ESPN will keep its broadcast rights for WNBA games while any other games will be aired on local networks that held the rights before.

The WNBA is expected to return in late July.


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