Diana Taurasi Opts to Sit Out 2015 WNBA Season

Updated: February 3, 2015
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The Phoenix Mercury were sitting on top of the WNBA world last season, as they won their third championship in eight years — led by star guard Diana Taurasi. But they will be without their seven-time All-Star in 2015, after Taurasi announced Tuesday that she’ll opt out of playing this season to rest up and play for her Russian squad in the winter.

She gets paid $1.5 million by UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, while she would get paid just under the league maximum of $107,000 to play for the Mercury this summer. The WNBA hasn’t been the most financial savvy business, but this could cause them to take notice of the salaries their players are earning.

Taurasi is a fan-favorite across the WNBA, and with a league that has struggled to get the recognition that they’d prefer over the years, they could possibly take another loss by losing Taurasi this season.

Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx has been another polarizing figure, as she’s led her team to two championships in a four-year span, but Taurasi has been the LeBron James of the WNBA.

The 33-year-old was the 2014 Finals MVP, and has been one of the most accomplished female basketball players in history. She helped lead the Huskies to a 139-8 record during her four years at UConn, including multiple national championship trips, and has won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA.

She’s played year-round in both the USA and Europe since entering the WNBA in 2004, and she’s ready to take a break.

“Since 2004, when I started professional basketball, it has been a cycle, a cycle that I have enjoyed so much,” Taurasi told espnW. “With my team in Russia, a conversation began about making sure I’m at an elite level for a long time with them. I put everything on the table and weighed all my options and made the best decision.

“I’m really lucky to even have these options,” she said. “It speaks volumes on how UMMC values our relationship and vice versa. For 10 years, I have never had any significant time off.”

Third-year center Brittney Griner will now take the keys in Phoenix, as she also played an essential role in the Mercury’s 2014 championship run. Taurasi did tell ESPNW that she plans to return for the 2016 WNBA season, and will also play in the 2016 Olympics for Team USA.


Photo Cred (Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

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