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2024 WNBA Free Agency: How long will it take the Phoenix Mercury to rebuild?

The Phoenix Mercury have a long road to travel to become title contenders. What steps can they take this year to start heading in the right direction?

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces
How long will Brittney Griner and Mercury fans be waiting for Phoenix’s return to title contention?
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Phoenix Mercury ended last season at 9-21, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. While this historic franchise was a shell of its former self, it still had a few highs.

First and foremost, Brittney Griner returned to the States, is playing basketball and seems happy doing so. That’s bigger than basketball and from that aspect, maybe that’s all that matters. Another highlight came when Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to score 10,000 points—and did it as a 41-year-old. She’s the White Mamba and gave the Mercury faithful something to cheer for during a season where not much cheering happened. During the offseason, the Mercury hired former Orlando Magic assistant coach Nate Tibbetts and made him the highest-paid WNBA coach ever, which rubbed some people the wrong way given that he has zero experience in the WNBA.

So, with a few milestones, a new coach and a top-three draft pick, the Mercury enter 2024 with eyes on a new era of Phoenix basketball.


Facts and figures*

Players under contract (contract status; 2024 salary)

  • Diana Taurasi (protected veteran, $234,936)
  • Sophie Cunningham (protected veteran, $154,500)
  • Brianna Turner (protected veteran, $150,000)
  • Moriah Jefferson (protected veteran, $141,500)
  • Michaela Onyenwere (protected rookie scale, $85,690)
  • Kadi Sissoko (unprotected, $63,532)

Free agent (type; 2023 salary)

  • Skylar Diggins-Smith (unrestricted, $234,350)
  • Brittney Griner (unrestricted, $165,100)
  • Megan Gustafson (unrestricted, $74,407)
  • Shey Peddy (unrestricted, $74,305 )
  • Sug Sutton (reserved, $62,285)

Total salary of free agents: $610,447

Total team salary: $830,158

Cap space: $633,042

2024 WNBA Draft picks (2024 salary)

  • Round 1, No. 3 ($76,535)
  • Round 3, No. 25 ($64,154)
  • Round 3, No. 29 ($64,154)

Analysis

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces
Who will take the court for the Phoenix Mercury in 2024?
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

With only six players on the books, the Mercury will have plenty of roster spots and cap space to make some noise. The first priority will be to re-sign Griner, which I think is just a formality. Another formality is Skylar Diggins-Smith being gone. That relationship is as fractured as it gets, so Phoenix will not see her in a Mercury jersey again.

With Griner and Taurasi locked in and SDS out, the question becomes how they will fill out the rest of the roster. Does the organization look at this season as a rebuilding year, focusing on adding quality rotation players rather than going after the big names? Or, will they swing for the fences?

We’ll know soon enough if they aim for players like Jonquel Jones, or make small moves that can turn into momentum, like signing Sydney Colson. But one thing is certain, it’s a new era in Phoenix. With the Mercury only winning nine games last season, it won’t take much for Tibbets to get the team heading in a better direction.


*Thanks to Her Hoop Stats for all salary numbers.