February 4, 2024 

Phoenix Mercury trade for Rebecca Allen to help shore up their defense

'Becca is a multidimensional player, who can impact the game on both ends of the floor'

With the signing of point guard Natasha Cloud late last week, the Phoenix Mercury had a plethora of point guards and a need to add wing depth and some defensive might. On Saturday, they made a move that solved both problems, acquiring Rebecca Allen from the Connecticut Sun in a sign-and-trade deal, sending Moriah Jefferson back to Connecticut.

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Once Phoenix signed Cloud, it seemed likely that Phoenix would look to trade Jefferson, who started 36 games at point guard but would be sent to the bench with Cloud’s addition. Phoenix also saw Sug Sutton have a breakout season in 2023, giving them depth behind Cloud and Diana Taurasi at the guard positions. It also helps the team financially, as Jefferson was set to make $141,500 in 2024 while Sutton is only making $64,154 this season.

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At least some of that savings will be spent on Allen, who Richard Cohen of HerHoopStats reports will make $160,000 for each of the next two seasons. The veteran from Australia appeared in all 40 games for the Sun in her only season in Connecticut after playing for the New York Liberty for her entire WNBA career up until 2023.

Last year, the 6’2 wing made 27 starts, averaging 6.4 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 21.5 minutes per game. Allen can be used at three positions (a big shooting guard, small forward or a smallball power forward) and is one of the better shot blockers in the league, even though she’s nominally listed as a guard. She ranked No. 9 in the WNBA with 1.3 blocks per game, ahead of multiple post players who played more minutes per game than Allen.

“Becca is a multidimensional player, who can impact the game on both ends of the floor with her elite shooting, versatility and length,” Mercury general manager Nick U’Ren said in a press release. “The veteran leadership and high basketball IQ that she brings will be invaluable to our team.”

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Acquiring Allen will surely help improve Phoenix’s defense. Last season, the Mercury were tied for ninth in points per game allowed while Connecticut gave up the fewest points per game. Phoenix had the worst defensive rating in the league at 107.9 while the Sun had the second-best at 98.8. The team they trailed, the Las Vegas Aces, won their second-straight WNBA championship. Allen herself had a 97.3 defensive rating.

Longtime Mercury center Brittney Griner — who is technically a free agent still, but has no plans of signing anywhere else and is expected to finalize her contract with Phoenix sometime this month — was pumped about the move when asked about it USA Basketball’s training camp in Brooklyn.

“I’m super excited. She’s bringing length on defense, on offense, shoot the ball, shoot the three,” Griner said. “We just got better with her, with Cloud as well. I’m super excited about everything that Phoenix is doing right now. They’re really making strides.

“It means a lot when you see your organization say they want to do something and then they actually do it [and] follow through on the back end. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

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Mercury add Williams

The Mercury made another move on Saturday, signing former UConn standout Christyn Williams to a training camp deal. Williams was the second pick of the second round in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics but missed the 2022 season after hurting her knee in training camp. She signed a hardship contract with Phoenix near the end of last season but did not play in a game due to injury.

At UConn, Williams averaged 14 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in four seasons. She helped the Huskies reach the NCAA Final Four three times.

The Next’s Jackie Powell contributed reporting to this story.

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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