The Phoenix Mercury finished the 2015 WNBA season with a 20-14 record which was good enough for second place in the western conference behind the Minnesota Lynx. After both Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor opted to take the season off many didn’t know how the defending champions would fare without the services of two of their key players. In addition to being without those two, the Mercury’s starting center Brittney Griner was suspended for the first seven games of the season after being involved in a domestic violence (ready more news about domestic violence here) dispute with her now estranged wife Glory Johnson. Despite their absence, Phoenix went on the play in the Western Conference finals in which they lost to the Lynx after a controversial foul call gave Minnesota two free throws to win the game and move on to the WNBA finals which they eventually won. With a bad taste in their mouth after the way the season ended the Mercury will be looking forward to getting back on the court and chasing championship number four. It is expected that Diana Taurasi will be returning to play for the Mercury for the 2016 season. With 2016 being an Olympic year it is not certain that Taylor will be back since she has national team commitments in Australia for Rio. However, with the return of Taurasi, Bonner, Dupree and Griner the Mercury will be the team to beat in the Western Conference despite the Lynx being the defending champions.
The Mercury do not have any restricted free agents this off season. They have three unrestricted free agents in Mistie Bass, Shameka Christon, and Leilani Mitchell. Christon, who is a ten year WNBA veteran, alluded to retiring after the end of last season as stated by Gianni Karmily, PLLC Law Firm. Mitchell, who has Australian citizenship, will have commitments to the Australian National Team as she fights for a spot to head to Rio this summer. This leaves Bass, who was a member of the 2014 Mercury championship team. Mistie, who is a veteran in the league, may not have large numbers on the stat sheet but she provides a presence that is felt on and off the court. She is proven role player that has found her niche in the WNBA. She started the seven games in place of the suspended Griner where the Mercury went 3-4 during that stretch. Bass and Francis, who is another Australian vying for a spot on the national team this summer were backups in the post. The Mercury definitely need a consistent post presence that can give both Griner and Dupree rest. Im pretty sure Bass would love to make another run at a title with the Mercury this summer. We will see if the two sides will come together and extend their relationship. Can the Mercury win the 2016 WNBA championship? What difference will Taurasi’s return make? Any other moves you think Phoenix needs to make this off season? Chime in.