February 8, 2023 

Diana Taurasi speaks on Ishbia’s purchase of Mercury, not planning on pay cut in 2023

Phoenix star Diana Taurasi spoke Tuesday on the future of the organization under new owner Mat Ishbia — Taurasi is not planning on taking a pay cut

The Robert Sarver era officially ended in Phoenix Tuesday as Mat Ishbia, the billionaire chairman, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, assumed controlling ownership interest in the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

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Tuesday was also a previously scheduled zoom availability with free agent WNBA star Diana Taurasi, who has spent all 18 of her seasons in the league in Phoenix. Taurasi is training with Team USA in Minneapolis at the moment and was made available to the media by USA Basketball at 4 p.m. EST, which happened to be about 10 minutes after the release was sent announcing Ishbia as the new Mercury owner.

Taurasi shared her thoughts on the news and gave Ishbia an endorsement.

“I got to meet Mat the other day,” Taurasi said. “And his kids. And there’s a reason why he’s been able to be so successful. In one conversation, he has this energy and this drive about him that you can feel just being in the gym with him. And had a great conversation with him the other day and like I said, I think it’s just going to put our franchises (the Mercury and the Suns) in the direction that we want to go into the future.”

As for if she will play for Ishbia’s Phoenix Mercury, Taurasi, 40, said her plan is to be in the Valley of the Sun in 2023.

“My intention is to re-sign,” Taurasi said. “… I think as an organization, we have a lot of things to sort out. So I think those are all in the works right now. … That’s the only jersey I’ve ever worn, but at the same time, as we’ve seen this past week, anything can happen (in) the sports world.”

The Mercury have an interesting salary cap situation. They only have $731,650 remaining in cap space and that is only with four players on standard contracts at the moment. If Taurasi takes close to the $228,094, she made last season and Brittney Griner, who is also a free agent but has said she wants to play for Phoenix, takes the $234,936 supermax contract, the two players will occupy well over half of Phoenix’s remaining cap room. If those two numbers are what Taurasi and Griner take, the Mercury would be left with $268,620 to spread out between six players.

With some solid free agents still out there and the league not getting any easier with Las Vegas and New York forming super teams, one might wonder if Taurasi would consider taking less money to help Phoenix add depth.

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When asked if she would take a pay cut to help Phoenix contend, Taurasi did not seem to be interested.

“Yeah, I don’t know about that,” Taurasi said. “I’m not one to take less money. I don’t know about you guys.”

Taurasi discusses seeing Brittney Griner post-detainment

Taurasi has been able to meet with her longtime teammate, Griner, following her release from Russian detainment.

The 18-year veteran spoke on what the experience of seeing her friend was like.

“It was a situation I thought wasn’t going to happen,” Taurasi said. “I’m not a person that lives in this fake world of optimism. I knew how serious everything was. I lived in Russia for 10 years. I know how serious these things are there and being put in that situation; I really thought it was going to be a long time until I got to see my friend again. And every single day, we suffered and hoped she’d be back. Not until I saw her did I really believe it. Just to see her smile. Just to see her free. Was really emotional for everyone.”

Written by Jesse Morrison

Jesse Morrison covers the Phoenix Mercury for The Next. A native of Roanoke, Va., Jesse moved to Arizona in 2017 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sports journalism. Outside of The Next, Jesse works for Arizona Sports, co-hosting an Arizona State podcast, producing a radio show and writing for their website.

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