Former UConn Huskies and Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi will not play the 2015WNBA season, the team announced Tuesday. Taurasi's lucrative contract with the Russian team for which she has played during the last several WNBA offseasons includes an offer to pay her to rest this summer. With that, and the prospect of playing in the 2016 Olympics and future WNBA seasons, she has chosen to rest during the 2015 campaign. Taurasi will return to the team for the 2016 season.
"An athlete's career is finite, and we support any choice Diana makes in her own best interest and which has the potential to prolong her career," said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. "We know how much Diana cares about the Mercury organization, team and fans. While we do not underestimate her value to our team, we remain committed to our organization's stated mission to win championships and create sustained success. We return the league's best coach and the best core of players in the WNBA, we will work to improve the roster around them, and we will settle for nothing less than defending our title."
"We understand Diana's choice not to play this season, a decision that undoubtedly will extend her career and will benefit the Mercury in the future," said Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello. "Obviously it is hard to replace someone of her caliber, but we are confident in our other key personnel on our roster continuing their development and rising to the challenge. Jim Pitman and I are actively pursuing quality free agents that will complement our players and greatly assist us in our quest to defend our title in 2015."
"This was a decision I felt was in my best interest, both now and for the future," said Taurasi. "I look forward to being back on the court in front of the best fans in the WNBA in 2016." A letter from Taurasi to the X-Factor, the Mercury fans, is attached.
Taurasi has spent her entire 11-year WNBA career with the Mercury after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut in the 2004 WNBA Draft. She is the WNBA's the second all-time leading scorer with 6,722 career points, just 766 points behind Tina Thompson (7,488 points) and her all-time scoring average of 20.1 points is also second in league history behind Cynthia Cooper (21.0 points). One of the most decorated players in women's basketball history, Taurasi picked up her second career WNBA Finals MVP award in 2014. She averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the WNBA Champion Mercury a season ago. The even-time WNBA All-Star has also won three Olympic Gold medals as a member of Team USA (2004, 2008, 2012).
Sandy Brondello, 2014 WNBA Coach of the Year, leads 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Brittney Griner, All-Star Candice Dupree and three-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year DeWanna Bonner as the Mercury open defense of their title on Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m. against the San Antonio Stars at U.S. Airways Center. That night, the Mercury will unveil the 2014 WNBA Championship banner and have a pregame championship ring ceremony. Tickets are available by calling 602-252-WNBA or by visiting PhoenixMercury.com.