Mercury focused on present and future in twilight of Diana Taurasi’s career

Feb 21, 2024, 11:01 AM | Updated: 11:02 am

Diana Taurasi celebrates...

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

New Phoenix Mercury general manager Nick U’Ren wouldn’t have left his post as Golden State Warriors executive director of basketball operations for many opportunities.

But being a part of a growing WNBA landscape on top of working with one of the best to ever do it in Diana Taurasi and heading back home, the job was too good to pass up for the first-year GM.

Now, it’s on him to put the proper pieces in place for success both in the present and future with Taurasi entering her 20th WNBA season and the twilight of her career.

“That is kind of one of the tightropes I’ve been trying to walk,” U’Ren told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “We need to give Diana the best team we can to celebrate her talent, to celebrate her accomplishments. A competitor like her and someone who’s accomplished so much, whenever she decides to hang it up, she deserves to go out with a really enjoyable year and a really competitive team.

“We want to support her and celebrate her … while also building for the future and putting pieces in place so that this thing can be sustainable whenever she’s done. We’re trying to balance those two things. Hopefully we made a dent in that plan with this offseason, but that’s certainly the goal: to give her a really exciting team to play with, that complements her. And then one we can be excited about for the two, four, six years.”

In his first offseason back with the organization that helped kick off his professional basketball career as a video coordinator, U’Ren has stayed busy and aggressive behind the free-agent signing of guard Natasha Cloud and the acquisitions of All-Star Kahleah Copper and forward Rebecca Allen via trades.

He also went out and added Nate Tibbetts at head coach, replacing Vanessa Nygaard.

But with a Brittney Griner re-signing still looming and further roster manipulation needed to achieve his overarching goal of balancing the present and the future, U’Ren’s work is far from done.

As for Taurasi? That’s up for debate.

“She’s still here,” U’Ren said. “I think she’ll be here past when I’m here. I think she’s just going to be here. We need to stop questioning it and just realize it. She’ll probably outlast me here.”

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