Mercury GM: Skylar Diggins-Smith is ‘under contract for next year’
Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith departed the team for personal reasons during last two games of the regular season and two playoff outings, and making her status for 2023 in the Valley unclear.
In the last media availability of the year on Sunday, Mercury general manager Jim Pitman and head coach Vanessa Nygaard were asked if the star guard would be on the court in Phoenix next season.
“(Diggins-Smith) is under contract for next year,” Pitman said Sunday. “She’s obviously not with us for personal reasons that we really can’t talk about, but she is under contract, so yes.”
Nygaard echoed Pitman’s statement and would not comment on Diggins-Smith’s suspension because of the personal matter.
The Mercury’s season came to an end in a Game 2 first-round loss to Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, ending a year full of ups and downs.
One of the biggest bright spots for the team was Diggins-Smith, the team’s lone WNBA All-Star who averaged a team-high 19.7 points per game to pair with 5.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
She originally was ruled out on Aug. 6 for a games with a non-COVID-related illness before leaving the team for personal reasons and then being ruled out and suspended on Aug. 10.
On top of the efforts to bring center Brittney Griner home from detainment in Russia, the team dealt with injuries, including to Diana Taurasi down the stretch, a midseason release of All-Star Tina Charles as well as the late suspension of Diggins-Smith.
Pitman referenced the tough season the team had to endure, signing 31 different contracts during the year to fill holes in the roster.
Both the rookie head coach and Pitman said they thought the team was a championship-caliber roster heading into the year before hitting different challenges.
Phoenix finished the season 15-21 and with a first-round playoff exit as the No. 8 seed after falling in the WNBA Finals to the Chicago Sky the year prior.