Brittney Griner Signs 1-Year Deal with Phoenix Mercury After Release from Russia

The WNBA star is returning back to basketball after missing the 2022 season while she was detained in a Russian prison

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Brittney Griner. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty

Brittney Griner is heading back to the WNBA.

After the 32-year-old basketball player spent nearly ten months in a Russian prison after being detained for allegedly smuggling "narcotic drugs" into the country last February, ESPN reports that the free agent is returning to the Phoenix Mercury under a one-year, $165,100 contract.

Griner re-signed with the team after last playing during the 2021 season, averaging 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in her career. Following her return to the United States in December, she voiced her intention to return to the team in her first statement after her release.

"I also want to make one thing very clear," Griner wrote in an a lengthy Instagram post. "I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season."

Exclusive to P{eople Magazine: Brittney Griner playing backetball for the ifrst time since her release. December 10, 2022. Fort Sam Houston. Credit: Miguel Negron/U.S. Army South
Brittney Griner playing basketball for the first time since her release. Miguel Negron/U.S. Army West

Griner continued: "And in doing so, I look forward to being able to say 'thank you' to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon."

That month, she participated in her first basketball workout, with her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, telling ESPN at the time that she would take the holiday season to contemplate her next steps.

"There's no timeline on her return at this point," Colas told ESPN. "She's reintegrating into a world that has changed for her now. From a pure security standpoint, she's not going to be able to move in the world the way she did."

Colas told ESPN, "If she wants to play, it will be for her to share. She has the holidays to decide what's next without any pressure. She's doing really, really well. She seems to have endured this in pretty incredible ways."

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert echoed the same sentiments during NBA All-Star Weekend, after she was able to meet with Griner in person.

RELATED VIDE: Brittney Griner Lands in U.S. After Russian Prison Release: 'Welcome Home BG!'

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"I met with her in Phoenix," Engelbert told Poppy Harlow today on CNN This Morning ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend. "Britney is doing remarkably well, and she's starting to train. We're so excited to have her back in the league after an awful ordeal."

The Phoenix Mercury will begin their season on the road next year, taking on the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.

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