Mercury stars Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner plan to return next season

Sep 11, 2023, 4:30 PM | Updated: 5:12 pm

Diana Taurasi...

Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury reacts after scoring her 10,000th career point during the second half against the Atlanta Dream at Footprint Center on August 03, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Mercury stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner made it clear during exit interviews with media on Monday that they plan to return to Phoenix in 2024.

The Mercury’s season ended Sunday with a loss to the Las Vegas Aces. It was their 11th defeat in a row to cap a 9-31 season, their worst since Taurasi’s injury-marred 2012 campaign that led to the draft selection of Griner No. 1 overall.

Taurasi, 41, agreed to return to Phoenix on a two-year deal in February, which takes her through to 2024 Summer Olympics, which she said at the time was on her radar. Next season would be her 20th in the WNBA.

“I got another year on my contract and I’m definitely going to fulfill that,” Taurasi told reporters.

While the Mercury snapped a decade-long playoff streak, Taurasi continued to build accolades and reach milestones untouched in WNBA history.

Most notably, she became the first player in league history to eclipse 10,000 career points on Aug. 3. Nobody else has reached 7,500.

Taurasi played in 26 out of 40 games and averaged 16 points on 40.3% shooting with 4.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds.

She missed the last five contests of the year with a left toe injury.

Griner, 32, returned to the Mercury after spending 10 months in 2022 detained in Russia. The center played 31 games and made her eighth career WNBA All-Star Game as Phoenix’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. Griner received warm welcome backs at arenas across the league.

She missed nine games due to injuries and to focus on mental health. She is entering free agency.

“Come on now, Phoenix is home,” Griner told reporters. “This is where I’ve been. Me and my wife literally just got a place. This is it.”

Taurasi and Griner have been to two WNBA Finals and won a championship together since Griner was drafted. Neither has played for another WNBA team.

The Mercury have gone through much transition over the past year with Mat Ishbia buying the Suns and Mercury, a head coaching change from Vanessa Nygaard to Nikki Blue and the announcement that Nick U’Ren will take over as general manager for Jim Pitman.

“I’m excited, It’s gonna be our first season with Nick, who I think is just a phenomenal human being and is gonna do a great job taking over for Jim. It’s gonna be our first year with Mat at the helm … Just so excited for the future of this team and what we’re going to be able to do in free agency and finally having some salary cap space to make some moves,” Taurasi said.

“I’m ready to go. I already worked out this morning, the offseason started for me already.”

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