PHOENIX MERCURY

Skylar Diggins-Smith to miss Phoenix Mercury’s last 2 games

Aug 11, 2022, 2:05 PM | Updated: 3:10 pm
Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith (4) drives against Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Willia...

Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith (4) drives against Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams (10) during a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (Sarah Gordon/The Day via AP)

(Sarah Gordon/The Day via AP)

Locked in a four-way tie record-wise and fighting for a playoff spot, the Phoenix Mercury announced Thursday another major blow to their rotation, with All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith set to miss the final two regular season games of the year due to personal reasons.

Phoenix said it will sign a replacement player Friday before its next game against the Dallas Wings.

On the WNBA transactions page, the guard is listed as suspended.

It’s been a trying season for the Mercury, who have emotionally dealt with center Brittney Griner’s confinement in a Russian prison deemed by the United States government as wrongful. She was arrested in February, went through a trial and has been found guilty on drug charges.

The Mercury also in the middle of the season parted ways with last year’s WNBA scoring leader Tina Charles, who signed with the team to give the core a boost.

Jump to Monday, when the team announced that Diana Taurasi would miss the final three games of the year with a quad strain.

Now, Diggins-Smith will be sidelined Friday against Dallas and Sunday against the Chicago Sky.

Over 30 games, she averaged 19.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

Diggins-Smith has missed the last two games. The point guard was listed as out with a non-COVID-19 illness on Saturday before sitting out due to personal reasons Wednesday in an 86-77 loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

“We found out before the game (Wednesday) and you know, we have gone through this on Saturday, too,” head coach Vanessa Nygaard told reporters after losing to the Lynx. “A little bit prepared a little bit at least. We knew what it’d be like to play without Sky and D. So, yeah, just one day at a time moving forward. We’ve seen everything this year, so whatever gets thrown at us, we’re ready to just lace them up and go.

“So whoever we have available is going to come out and battle for our team. And they’re going to give 110% and really, really fight. We still have fight, and we’re going to be ready to go. That’s what our fans deserve.”

Diggins-Smith’s last appearance this year came Thursday, hours after Griner was sentenced to a nine-year prison stay in Russia.

Diggins-Smith scored 16 points and shot 5-of-15 from the field before addressing reporters with an emotional response to a question about Griner.

“Y’all asking these questions don’t really take away from our trauma. They just add to our trauma. We can break down and cry in front of y’all so you can see how we feel. I don’t know what else to really say about it,” Diggins-Smith said.

“This is our real-life friend, real-life sister. Imagine if your real-life friend or real-life sister is out here. I don’t expect everybody to give a damn, but we really do. And we come out here and we’re still supposed to play this (expletive) game. Nobody even wanted to play today.”

As for the playoff race, Phoenix (14-20) is tied record-wise with the seventh and eighth seeds in the WNBA, Minnesota and the Atlanta Dream, as well as the New York Liberty.

FiveThirtyEight projected the Mercury with a 38% shot of making the postseason before Diggins-Smith was ruled out.

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