Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner signed a new multi-year contract that will keep her as a team cornerstone.
The 6-8 Griner, going into her fifth WNBA season, is a three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. The 26-year-old made a trip back to Phoenix from Russia, where she plays in the WNBA offseason, for the contract announcement before Sunday’s Phoenix Suns game. Details of the contract were not released.
Griner made $61,800 base salary last season under terms of her four-year WNBA rookie contract. She is reported to earn close to $1 million annually playing overseas. The highest paid WNBA players make just over $100,000 in base salary.
“Brittney Griner is the present and the future of the WNBA and we are fortunate to guarantee she continues her growth here in Phoenix,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said. “Building a championship team starts on the defensive end and this move keeps the best rim-protector in the history of the women’s game in a Mercury uniform for the foreseeable future. Griner has changed the way the WNBA game is played, she has rewritten record books in just four years, and she is already a champion.”
Griner was the WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick in 2013. The Mercury are 84-52 in her four years, winning a league record 29 games in 2014 en route to the WNBA title.
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In 121 games, Griner has 422 blocks, ninth most in WNBA history. She is the fastest player to reach 400 blocks. The Mercury have led the league in blocked shots in the last three seasons.
Griner has averaged 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Mercury while shooting 56.3 percent, fourth best in WNBA career history She has put down eight of the 14 regular-season dunks in league history and the only playoff dunk.
Griner started on the U.S. gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Olympics and won a EuroLeague title with UMMC Ekaterinburg. She was two-time college national college Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 while at Baylor.
UMMC Ekaterinburg, with Griner and Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi, is through the semifinals April 14 in pursuit of a second straight EuroLeague title. The final is April 16.
The Mercury will have no more than half of their 12-player 2016 postseason roster back, notably losing Penny Taylor (retirement), Candice Dupree (trade) and DeWanna Bonner (pregnancy, will return in 2018). Taylor is joining the Mercury staff as director of player development and performance.
Newcomers include guard Danielle Robinson, forward Camille Little, center Cayla George. The season begins May 14.