Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner taking time off to focus on mental health

Jul 29, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner watches from the bench during a WNBA basketball game against...

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner watches from the bench during a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Sunday, June 18, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Brittney Griner is calling timeout.

The Phoenix Mercury standout is taking a break from the team to focus on her mental health. The club announced in a release Saturday the All-Star will not travel with the team for its upcoming road trip to the Midwest when it takes on the Chicago Sky on Sunday and the Indiana Fever on Tuesday.

The Mercury are due back in the Valley on Thursday to face the Atlanta Dream. However, the release did not indicate when Griner would be rejoining the team.

Griner has excelled in her first year back with the club, averaging 18.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and being named to the All-Star team. The team has struggled to find wins, however, going just 6-17 in their first 23 games of the year.

The team has been flying charter since June after an incident at a Dallas airport when Griner and the team were harassed by what the league, at the time, called a “provocateur.”

According to a previously published report, the WNBA said Griner’s security has been an ongoing concern since before the season began. League officials were talking with Mercury officials and the eight-time All-Star’s representatives about how to protect Griner and her teammates following the highly publicized legal case, during which she was jailed in Russia on drug charges before being freed in December in a prisoner exchange.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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