Free-agent WNBA star Diana Taurasi re-signed with the Phoenix Mercury on a multiyear deal, the team announced Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Taurasi, 40, will be playing in her 19th WNBA season.
  • Last season, she posted averages of 16.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
  • Taurasi is a three-time WNBA champion with the Mercury, a 10-time All-Star and won the WNBA MVP in 2009.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Scouting report

The all-time leading scorer in WNBA history has had difficulty staying on the floor in recent years. Taurasi has been available for 58 percent of Phoenix’s regular-season games over the last four seasons and was injured for the 2019 and 2022 postseasons, both of which ended in first-round exits for the Mercury.

She’s also been a defense-optional player for most of that time and fairly loose with the ball, so she has to be a special scorer to provide value. Luckily for her Taurasi, there are still many nights when she does. When the three-ball is falling with her lightning-quick release, it’s easy to forget Taurasi’s other deficiencies or that she’s 40 years old and won’t be doing this for much longer; she can heat up instantly and rain fire on any opponent, and that spectacle is one of a kind.

At this stage of her career, Taurasi is a complementary player who exists only to raise a team’s offensive ceiling. Given her pedigree on the big stage, that’s still a useful player to have. — Merchant

While expected, Taurasi’s return remains noteworthy

The fact that Taurasi is returning to the Mercury is unsurprising. On Feb. 7, while at a USA Basketball training camp, she reiterated she wanted only to play for one team during her career, and that she hoped to be back with the franchise. Still, the return of the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer on a multiyear deal does provide some clarity as to how the organization will proceed in the immediate future: The plan will be to compete for championships until Taurasi retires. General manager Jim Pitman explained as much in his statement announcing Taurasi’s signing, saying, “We look forward to more accolades, more historic moments, and more wins.” — Pickman

How does she fit with Phoenix’s current roster?

A season after making the 2021 WNBA Finals, the Mercury went just 15–21 in 2022, albeit doing so without star center Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia. While Griner hasn’t officially re-signed with the team, she too has publicly indicated a desire to play for Phoenix this season. That should give the Mercury a core very similar to that of their recent finals team, which was led by Taurasi, Griner, forward Brianna Turner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Last season, there were reports of Diggins-Smith being on the trading block. In October, Diggins-Smith also announced she was pregnant with her second child. Her status, therefore, remains more uncertain. But Phoenix has added depth this offseason, signing guard Moriah Jefferson in free agency and bringing back guard Sophie Cunningham as well. The Mercury also added 2021 Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere as part of a four-team trade, giving them another option on the wing. — Pickman

What they’re saying

“Diana Taurasi belongs in a Mercury uniform, and we are grateful for the continued faith she demonstrates in our organization by returning year after year,” Pitman added in a statement. “The way she prepares her body, how much she cares about winning, and how much she cares about our franchise — on and off the court — are just a few of the things that make her a transcendent athlete and quite literally the greatest of all time.”

Required reading

(Photo: Joe Camporeale / USA Today)


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