Following an action-packed offseason for the three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury that was highlighted by the acquisition of four-time All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith, the Merc were slated to begin their quest for a fourth WNBA title against Seattle at the Madhouse on McDowell on May 17.
While the beginning of the WNBA season has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello and star center Brittney Griner joined Suns and Mercury broadcaster Tom Leander on the latest installment of Valley Chatz, brought to you by FirstBank, to catch up with the X-Factor and hoops fans across Arizona.
The newest Valley Chatz episode will debut on Sunday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. (PT) on Suns.com/now and FOX Sports Arizona, the team’s exclusive local television station, prior to “Sunsday” at 7 p.m.
Brondello & Griner both shared that they’re doing well, given the circumstances, and are trying to make the best of each day. Brondello added that she’s embracing the opportunity to spend time with her family, working out and fine-tuning her cooking skills, while Griner has enjoyed taking some time to explore the outdoors and go off-roading in her Jeep in the East Valley.
During these challenging times, the WNBA Draft last week offered a sense of normalcy in line with the usual cadence of the basketball season. Brondello joined Mercury GM Jim Pitman in his dining room to conduct the 2020 WNBA Draft, and their work netted the team three new guards – veteran Shatori Walker-Kimbrough via trade, Baylor’s Te’a Cooper in the second round and Rider’s Stella Johnson in the third round.
The Mercury, of course, had already added a top-tier talent earlier this offseason with the trade for Skylar Diggins-Smith. Griner has competed against Diggins-Smith in both college and the WNBA, and is thrilled about the prospect of having the dynamic point guard on her team this season and beyond.
“I know what she brings to the table and I know what she can do to help our team, as far as on the court,” Griner said when asked about the Diggins-Smith trade. “She’s just an all-around really good person, as well, to be a part of that Mercury family that we have.”
Excitement around the Mercury following the Diggins-Smith trade is at a fever-pitch, and basketball fans across the country will have greater opportunity to follow the league after WNBA and Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) reached an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement earlier this year.
“I think the CBA has created a lot of interest in our league because it’s adding a little bit more freedom now,” said Brondello. She also mentioned that superstars have historically not left their teams, before lightheartedly reassuring viewers that BG isn’t going anywhere.
Fans are encouraged to check out Suns.com/now to discover upcoming Valley Chatz guests and submit questions for the discussion, providing a forum to glean insight from Suns and Mercury personalities about the things fans want to hear about. Tom Leander, along with Suns Digital & Content Host and FOX Sports Arizona sideline reporter Lindsey Smith, will lead the conversations with special quests that will provide updates and commentary on a wide array of topics.