The recent trades have many Phoenix Mercury fans scratching their heads. Are they preparing for life without Diana Taurasi?
I want to start this article out by saying I hope that Diana Taurasi is still a couple of years off retiring. The WNBA all-time leading scorer has surely earned the right to go out on her own terms.
However, with the recent moves made by the Mercury, there is a wonder and a doubt as to the future of the future hall-of-fame player. The Mercury have been selling current assets for future picks.
Kelsey Bone was traded in a sign-and-trade with the Aces as she was never going to displace Brittney Griner as the starting center, which is the position she coveted.
In return, the Mercury did not receive a player. If they thought they could contend in 2018 they would try and get an asset rather than two future picks. In return for Bone the Mercury received a 2018 second round pick and a 2019 third round pick.
This return for Bone was better than they could have expected but it is nothing compared to Courtney Williams who they traded away to get Bone.
However, the alarm bells are ringing for me as the Mercury also traded away Cayla George to the Connecticut Sun for a second round pick. George did fall out of the rotation at the end of the playoffs but getting rid of her entirely speaks volumes.
What this means
The Mercury have traded away two players who can take time away from Griner. This says the Mercury are about to go all in on the star center as they see her as the future of the team.
The Mercury are stock piling future assets to surround their star center. If the Mercury move Dewanna Bonner on for picks then that will confirm this thesis.
If they can emulate what the Dallas Wings did last season by surrounding a star with young picks, the potential rebuild after losing a superstar of the quality of Diana Taurasi will hurt less.
No team can afford to lose for an extended period of time. the supporter base and money are not there in the WNBA. The Mercury may be looking ahead to when Taurasi retires, knowing they cannot miss the playoffs for any period of time.
Lets hope we are having this conversation at the start of next season as well.