September 12, 2023 

Still no definitive end to Skylar Diggins-Smith saga with Phoenix Mercury

Taurasi: 'Next question'

The 2023 Phoenix Mercury season came and went with perennial All-Star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith not returning from maternity leave.

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Diggins-Smith, who will now become a free agent, and the team have had some tense moments the past couple of seasons. Last season, an argument between Diggins-Smith and Mercury guard Diana Taurasi occurred during a timeout in a game between Phoenix and the Las Vegas Aces. Diggins-Smith, who made the All-Star team in 2022, also quoted a video of then-head coach Vanessa Nygaard on Twitter, now known as X, with a clown emoji. The video was of Nygaard discussing how the 2022 game would not be an All-Star game without Taurasi participating.

This season, Diggins-Smith made a claim on X that she is not able to use the practice facility or resources provided by the team. When asked if this was the case, outgoing Mercury general manager Jim Pitman did not offer much clarity on whether or not Diggins-Smith’s claims about the organization were true other than saying the team ensures the proper resources are given to players.

“She was on maternity leave all season,” Pitman said. “And really can’t go into a lot of details there but … we want to make sure we’re providing the right resources to players, which we did. And I really can’t go much further than that on that issue.”

With Diggins-Smith’s free agency, the question now becomes is there any chance after the past two seasons of a reunion between the guard and the Mercury. New general manager Nick U’Ren said there have not been discussions with Diggins-Smith about a return or the two parties going separate ways.

“Nothing yet,” U’Ren said. “But I will absolutely be in touch with her agent especially after these couple days are over and all the exit interviews and I’ll let the dust settle. I’ll be in touch with her agent here shortly.”


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There were mixed reactions from players regarding whether or not they wanted Diggins-Smith back. Guard Shey Peddy remarked that she would “love to see her back.” Guard-forward Sophie Cunningham did not answer yes or no if she would like to see Diggins-Smith back but did say she does not know her plans having not talked to her in some time. She added that she hoped Diggins-Smith is “doing well” and hopes “her babies are healthy.”

When asked if she would like to see Diggins-Smtih return, Taurasi did not comment on the matter.

“Next question,” Taurasi said.


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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.

7 Comments

  1. Susan Kay Fassett on September 12, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Nowhere in the WNBA-WNBPA CBA does it specify that players on maternity leave should receive access to team resources. The CBA only addresses that they should be paid their full pay. Perhaps the WNBPA need to address this in their next negotiation and call it the “Skylar Clause”.

  2. Gwen on September 13, 2023 at 2:47 am

    Skylar complained about the Dallas Wings organization when she was on maternity leave there. She ultimately asked for, and received a release from the Wings. And now she’s complaining about all the same things while on maternity leave in Phoenix. Something tells me this is all her, and not the 2 teams or organizations she represented in

  3. Gwen on September 13, 2023 at 2:49 am

    Skylar complained about the Dallas Wings organization when she was on maternity leave there. She ultimately asked for, and received a release from the Wings. And now she’s complaining about all the same things while on maternity leave in Phoenix. Something tells me this is all her, and not the 2 teams or organizations she represented.

  4. Gwen on September 13, 2023 at 2:55 am

    Skylar complained about the Dallas Wings when she was on maternity leave there. She ultimately asked for, and received, a release from the team. And now she’s complaining about the same things in Phoenix. Something tells me this is all her, and not the 2 organizations she represented.

    • Ahmed.Abdul Nchahaga on September 14, 2023 at 2:00 am

      I think what Phoenix are doing isn’t great at at all .As a free Agent I think she should choose to join the Sparks.

  5. Dlw on September 13, 2023 at 7:51 am

    That comment just shows how class less and self absorbed DT is.

  6. Brandon on September 14, 2023 at 2:24 am

    Friction aside, SDS’s 2022 season was arguably her best, leading the Mercury on both sides of the court.

    Regarding her and Taurasi. Two alpha personalities. But they played well together. And it’s the coach who is responsible for the team’s harmony, And Vanessa Nygaard did not seem to have the full respect of the team in general. And this year VN lasted only a short time (going 2-10) before being replaced with Nikki Blue.

    With Diggins-Smith I believe it is likely that the Merc would have won 20 games and been in the playoffs this year.

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