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Griner returns to Phoenix Mercury on 1-year contract following Russian detention: report

FILE – Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, left, high-fives teammate Brittney Griner during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Chicago Sky, on July 2, 2014, in Phoenix. Griner texted her good friend Diana Taurasi on Tuesday morning, Feb. 7, 2023, asking how the USA Basketball training camp was going. Griner was back in Arizona, choosing to skip the camp in Minnesota so she can be with her wife and recover from her time in a Russian jail. She returned to the U.S. in December after a dramatic prisoner swap. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

WNBA star Brittney Griner, has returned to the Phoenix Mercury on a one-year contract, after spending 10 months in Russian detention last year, according to ESPN.

Griner, who is considered a free-agent, signed a the deal with the Mercury on Saturday for $165,100, ESPN reported.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested at a Moscow airport last February, after vaping cartridges containing hashish oil were found in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison and transferred to a Russian penal colony.

President Biden secured Griner’s release in early December as part of a one-for-one prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death.”

Griner, who hasn’t played with the Mercury since 2021, expressed her gratitude at the time to members of the Biden administration who helped secure her release, pledged to aid President Biden’s efforts to bring home other prisoners — including former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is still imprisoned in Russia

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner wrote in an instagram post.

The deal comes just a month after Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry thanked Biden for “getting Brittney Griner home” as the famed point guard delivered remarks in an appearance in the White House briefing room.

“It means a lot to know that she’s here,” Curry, 34, said of Griner, “and all the work that went on behind the scenes to make that a reality. So I just want to say thank you.”

After returning to the U.S., Griner also posted on social media that she planned to to play for the Phoenix Mercury in the upcoming season.

“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,” she said.

While Griner has yet to publicly announce the deal, her name was listed on Saturday’s roster on the WNBA site.

Since returning from Russia, she has largely been out of the public eye — except for appearances at the recent Super Bowl at State Farm in Glendale, Arizona; the Phoenix Open and an MLK event in her home city.

Tags Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Joe Biden Steph Curry WNBA

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