Brittney Griner has signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Saturday, February 18, 2023

Brittney Griner has signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury

Brittney Griner has signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury.

After spending nearly 10 months imprisoned in Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner is making her return to basketball in the upcoming season, signing a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury, according to ESPN and The Athletic, who cited multiple unnamed sources.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was released in December -- after spending nearly 300 days in Russian custody -- in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

And as soon as she was back home, she vowed to play in the WNBA again.

"I also want to make one thing very clear: I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon," Griner said.

Griner -- who for years had played in the WNBA off-season for a Russian women's basketball team -- was arrested on drug smuggling charges at an airport in the Moscow region in February 2022. Her detention, which became an international cause during a tense time in relations between the US and Russia, was deemed wrongful by American officials.

And despite her testimony that she had inadvertently packed the cannabis oil that was found in her luggage, she was sentenced to nine years in prison in early August and was moved to a penal colony in the Mordovia republic in mid-November after losing her appeal.

Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, has said she intends to return to the Mercury for the 2023 season, but traveling to road games may be different.

The WNBA does not allow teams to charter flights. The league's collective bargaining agreement stipulates teams fly commercially and players receive "premium economy" seating, if available. 

Griner, 32, a three-time first-team All-WNBA performer, has averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and nearly two blocks per game during her professional career.

She skipped a USA Basketball training camp earlier this month, but the organization made it clear she could take all the time she needed to decide if she wanted to play for the U.S. again.

The WNBA has said it will address getting Griner special travel accommodations, such as charter flights, after she signed.

“We are very cognizant of BG’s unique situation,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP earlier this month. “We’ve been planning and we’ve been thinking it through with security experts, BG’s side, our side. We’ll find the right time to comment on it when she signs with a team.”

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