July 10, 2023 

Phoenix Mercury name Nick U’Ren as general manager

Jim Pitman plans to retire at the end of 2023 WNBA Season

On Monday, the Phoenix Mercury announced that Nick U’Ren, a senior basketball executive for the Golden State Warriors, will be the team’s next general manager. U’Ren will be the successor to Jim Pitman, who is set to retire as the Mercury’s general manager at the end of the 2023 WNBA season.

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U’Ren will work with Pitman through the transition and will report to Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein in his new position. Pitman will continue serving the Suns and Mercury as executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Under Pitman’s leadership, the team reached the WNBA semifinals six times and advanced to the WNBA Finals twice. The Mercury also won the 2014 WNBA Championship.

“It has been a great privilege to oversee 10 seasons of Mercury basketball and to have had a day-to-day role in the franchise I’ve been involved in since its inception in 1997,” Pitman said in a team release. “There have been extraordinary highs – winning a championship, witnessing Diana Taurasi becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, and of course watching Brittney Griner’s return to basketball – and I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of a team that has brought so many people so much joy. I have known Nick for many years and look forward to working alongside him to ensure we are well-positioned for success now and into the future.”

Mat Ishbia, owner of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns, expressed gratitude for Pitman’s contributions to the Mercury franchise in a team release.

“I want to thank Jim for his many contributions to the organization. From our very first meeting, Jim was transparent about his likely plans to retire as general manager at the end of this season, which gave us the time needed to find the right replacement to lead the Mercury forward,” Ishbia said. “We are excited to have Nick, a veteran basketball executive with four NBA titles under his belt, as the Mercury’s new general manager. We are committed to winning on and off the court, and I am confident that Nick will serve our fans, our community and our organization with passion, dedication and a commitment to excellence, in much the same way that Jim has.”

Since assuming control of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns franchises in February, Ishbia has implemented personnel changes and made investments in both organizations.

U’Ren, a four-time NBA champion and senior executive, originates from Phoenix, Ariz., and is an alumnus of McClintock High School. He worked for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury franchises for five seasons (2009-14), holding different positions such as director of video operations for the Suns and head video coordinator for the Mercury.

For the past nine years, U’Ren has held the position of senior basketball executive with the Golden State Warriors. He won four NBA titles with the Warriors and was also credited with suggesting that the team start Andre Iguodala in Game 4 of the 2015 NBA Finals. The decision ultimately helped spark the team’s championship run.

“I want to thank Mat Ishbia, Josh Bartelstein and Jim Pitman for entrusting me with one of the WNBA’s most storied franchises,” U’Ren said in a statement. “There is a clear willingness to invest the necessary resources to build a winning team and culture in Phoenix. That, combined with the great people on and off the court, made this the right opportunity at the right time for my family and me. I also want to thank the Golden State Warriors for the knowledge, experiences and friendships that I gained during my time there.”

“I am excited to welcome Nick and his family back home to the Mercury and Suns family where his basketball operations career began,” Bartelstein added. “Not only does Nick possess a wealth of basketball leadership experience, he has a tremendous understanding of what it takes to build a championship culture and create sustained success.”

Golden State general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. also expressed his support for U’Ren while speaking with reporters at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.

“It’s a great opportunity and I know Nick is excited about it,” Dunleavy Jr. said. “We’re thrilled for him. I really thank him for his nine years here which have been highly successful.”

The beginning of the season proved challenging for the Phoenix Mercury as they struggled with a 2-10 record. Consequently, they decided to part ways with head coach Vanessa Nygaard and appoint assistant coach Nikki Blue as the team’s interim head coach.

Since Blue took over, there have been noticeable improvements in their performance. As the All-Star break approaches, they have a single game left to play. They will travel to Las Vegas on Tuesday to face the defending champion Aces, who boast an impressive 17-2 record.

Written by Aya Abdeen

Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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