Phoenix Mercury sign 2021 WNBA leading scorer Tina Charles

Feb 4, 2022, 10:48 AM | Updated: 10:50 am

Tina Charles #14 of the United States in action during the Japan V USA basketball final for women a...

Tina Charles #14 of the United States in action during the Japan V USA basketball final for women at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Phoenix Mercury continue to load up their roster with big names ahead of the 2022 season.

The team announced Friday the signing of former Washington Mystics center Tina Charles.

Charles was the WNBA’s leading scorer in 2021, averaging a career high 23.4 points per game. She shot 45% from the field and 36.5% from long range, another career best.

It marked the second time Charles has won the scoring title, with the first being in 2016.

“Tina is an elite talent in our league and adding a player of her caliber is another example of our commitment to our fans and players to pursue a championship every year,” Mercury GM Jim Pitman said in a press release Friday. “Tina has made it clear that she wants to win and wants to do so in Phoenix.

“For us, this move is about adding absolute top-end talent into our frontcourt which already features what we consider the most dominant player in the game in (Brittney Griner) and the league’s best defender in Brianna Turner. We expect to be able to play all three fewer minutes which should benefit us in the playoffs.”

Charles heads to Phoenix already posting an impressive career that includes eight All-Star appearances, three Olympic gold medals and nine All-WNBA selections, five of which were first team nods.

The center entered the league as the No. 1 pick by the Connecticut Sun in the 2010 WNBA Draft. She made her presence felt right away, earning Rookie of the Year honors.

After four seasons that included two All-Star game nods and a WNBA MVP in 2012, Charles was traded just before the 2014 WNBA Draft to the New York Liberty. In her five seasons with the Liberty, Charles was named an All-Star four times.

In 2020, she was traded to the Mystics and was medically excused from the shortened season before returning to action in 2021. On top of her league-leading scoring, Charles averaged 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists over 33.3 minutes per game.

The signing of Charles is the latest move Phoenix has made in bolstering its roster ahead of the 2022 season.

After hiring Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard more than a week ago, Phoenix has stayed busy on the roster construction front.

On Monday, the Mercury cleared up cap space by sending Kia Vaughn to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for a third-round draft pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. The following day, Phoenix re-signed wing Sophie Cunningham, who posted career highs in scoring (5.6), rebounding (2.0) and assists (1.1) last season.

Then came Thursday’s three-team sign-and-trade with the Chicago Sky and Indiana Fever to acquire 2018 third overall pick Diamond DeShields. The guard averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 2021.

The latest acquisitions and signings join a talented Mercury core that includes point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, center Brittney Griner and the anticipated return of future Hall of Famer Diana Taurasi.

Phoenix Mercury

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury...

Associated Press

Diana Taurasi’s double-double leads Mercury to 1st win of 2023

Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury earned their first win of the season with a 90-81 victory against the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night.

10 days ago

Brittney Griner, Sophie Cunningham, Diana Taurasi...

Arizona Sports

How to watch the Phoenix Mercury on 1st over-the-air game of 2023

The Phoenix Mercury play their first over-the-air television broadcast of 2023 on Thursday when they host the Minnesota Lynx.

11 days ago

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury watches a three-point shot against the Chicago Sky durin...

Arizona Sports

Mercury’s Brittney Griner drops 27 in home return loss vs. Sky

Brittany Griner produced a double-double in her home return for the Phoenix Mercury against the Chicago Sky.

15 days ago

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is introduced before the WNBA game against the Chicago S...

Arizona Sports

Brittney Griner receives warm welcome back, scores on 1st possession in home return

For the first time since 2021, Brittney Griner took the court for the Mercury in Phoenix at Sunday's home opener.

15 days ago

Brittney Griner...

Arizona Sports

Mercury C Brittney Griner opens her 1st WNBA season since Russian detainment

Mercury C Brittney Griner made her WNBA regular-season return on Friday vs. the Sparks in L.A. after a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia.

16 days ago

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner smiles during the first half of a WNBA preseason basketball ...

Arizona Sports

Phoenix Mercury announce opening-night roster vs. Sparks

The Phoenix Mercury's opening-night roster is set ahead of their Friday matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks.

17 days ago

Phoenix Mercury sign 2021 WNBA leading scorer Tina Charles