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Diana Taurasi re-signs with Phoenix Mercury on multi-year deal

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) is congratulated by center Brittney Griner, left, and Skylar Diggins-Smith (4) after scoring a basket during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Ellenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Nine-time WNBA All-Star and three-time champion Diana Taurasi will be back with the Phoenix Mercury for her 17th season after agreeing on a multi-year deal, the team announced.

Monday marks the first day WNBA free agents are allowed to officially ink their new deals.

“WNBA players are more empowered and in control of their careers than ever before, and it is an incredibly important statement that Diana Taurasi has chosen to re-sign with the Mercury once again,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said in a statement. “Diana has given her entire career to our organization and community, and we don’t take for granted her unrivaled impact on basketball in the Valley.

“Her commitment to getting back on the court last year, and the level of play we saw from her in the Wubble, make us confident she has more All-WNBA days ahead of her.”

Taurasi, 38, returns in 2021 to give the Mercury’s current core group a second-go after the team used last offseason to revamp the roster with a flurry of trades. Most significantly, Phoenix dealt DeWanna Bonner and added guard Skylar Diggins-Smith to compete alongside Taurasi and center Brittney Griner.

Now, the Mercury’s top-four scorers from 2020 — Taurasi, Griner, Diggins-Smith and Bria Hartley — are locked in for 2021.

Last year, Taurasi played in 19 games and despite suffering a midseason back injury averaged 18.7 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Phoenix went 13-9 in the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla., but fell in the second round of the playoffs to the Minnesota Lynx.

Guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, forwards Nia Coffey and Jessica Breland, plus center Kia Vaughn are among the Mercury’s other free agents this offseason.