Jim Pitman: Phoenix Mercury ‘not taking the year off’ without Diana Taurasi

Feb 14, 2015, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:00 pm
LISTEN: Jim Pitman, Suns Executive Vice President & Phoenix Mercury GM

Diana Taurasi was picked up in the first round of the 2004 WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury and has been the face of the franchise ever since.

With her, the Mercury have won two WNBA championships, the most recent of which came last season after Phoenix posted a franchise-best 29-5 record. Taurasi averaged 16.2 points per game — the 11th consecutive season in which she’s averaged double-digit points.

So when general manager Jim Pitman got a call from Taurasi the weekend before she made the announcement to sit out the 2015 WNBA season, it was a bit of a shock.

“It’s obviously a big blow to the Mercury,” Pitman told Arizona Sports 98.7‘s Doug and Wolf. “You don’t just replace the best player in the world; she was the best women’s player in the world and still is.”

Taurasi will now be paid over $1.5 million to sit out the Mercury’s season — about 15 times her WNBA salary of around $107,000 — in order to stay healthy for her season overseas in Russia.

“It was an unfortunate situation for us and we’re disappointed that she’s not going to be back, but it’s certainly something that we understand,” said Pitman. “It was something she had to do for herself, for her family and her future as she looks to life after basketball.”

Pitman also wants to make something absolutely clear: 2015’s Mercury team isn’t going to sit back and whine about missing Taurasi.

“We’re not taking the year off,” he said. “We’re not going to make excuses. We are here to win, and we will do everything we can to defend, and that’s our mindset.”

The team has been busy. Within two days of Taurasi’s official announcement, the team announced the signings of five new players and will still return veteran leadership in Candice Dupree, DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner.

Phoenix Mercury

Head coach Sandy Brondello of the Phoenix Mercury looks on during the second half in Game Two of th...
Arizona Sports

Phoenix Mercury, head coach Sandy Brondello mutually agree to part ways

After eight seasons in the Valley, the Phoenix Mercury and head coach Sandy Brondello have mutually agreed to part ways.
3 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates after Eno Benjamin #26 (not pictured) scores a ...
Kevin Zimmerman

What Arizona sports fans can be thankful for in 2021

The spirit of Thanksgiving is about the gratefulness that comes with not having it all, but enjoying the some that you do have.
10 days ago
Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello watches during the second half of Game 5 of the team's WNBA b...
Associated Press

WNBA changing playoff format to more traditional 3-round bracket

The WNBA announced Thursday the playoffs will be three rounds -- best-of-three in the first round and best-of-five after -- starting in 2022.
20 days ago
Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner (42) shoots against Chicago Sky's Azura Stevens (30) during the f...
Nicholas Hodell

Mercury taking resiliency and poise away from WNBA Finals run

The Phoenix Mercury is taking away positive lessons and motivations from a disappointing end to its season in the 2021 WNBA Finals.
2 months ago
Phoenix Mercury's Sklar Diggins-Smith, left, Brittney Griner, center, and Bria Hartley right, react...
Associated Press

Phoenix Mercury fall short of WNBA title in loss to Chicago Sky

Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and Chicago beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4.
2 months ago
Phoenix Mercury's Sophie Cunningham (9) reacts after fouling Chicago Sky's Allie Quigley during the...
Associated Press

Phoenix Mercury fall to Chicago Sky in Game 3, face elimination on Sunday

The Phoenix Mercury dropped Game 3 by a staggering 36 points and now face elimination on Sunday in Chicago.
2 months ago
Jim Pitman: Phoenix Mercury ‘not taking the year off’ without Diana Taurasi