BREAKING: Details of Diana Taurasi’s deal, Mercury’s plan

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 8: Diana Taurasi
PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 8: Diana Taurasi /

Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury have agreed to a max deal through the 2020 season, The Summitt has learned.

The addition to her contract will keep Taurasi in Phoenix beyond her 38th birthday, all but assuring that she’ll finish her career on the same team that drafted her with the top overall pick in the 2004 WNBA draft. She’ll earn $113,500 in 2017, $115,500 in 2018, $117,500 in 2019 and $119,500 in 2020.

It also keeps her in the conversation for the 2020 USA Basketball team’s Olympic run, contra the belief that she and Sue Bird had played their final games for the national team.

With point guard Danielle Robinson signed through 2018 thanks to the extension she agreed to with San Antonio back in 2015, and Brittney Griner signed to a max deal through 2019, the spine of the Phoenix retooling comes into sharper focus.

ST. PAUL, MN – SEPTEMBER 28: Diana Taurasi
ST. PAUL, MN – SEPTEMBER 28: Diana Taurasi /

The configuration allows Taurasi to roam freely off the ball, something she’s done as well as anyone in the history of the league, without subjecting her to the dual responsibility of consistently running the team’s offense. Robinson serves as an independent broker of shot opportunities, and Taurasi’s decisions will no longer keep Griner from getting her looks within the flow of the Mercury offense.

It is not possible to have a smaller sample size than the one game the three have played together, but the shape of this is apparent from Phoenix’s opener. Robinson finished with nine assists. Both Griner and Taurasi finished with 11 shots apiece. Though Taurasi struggled with her shot on Sunday—to be fair, the day after one’s wedding, virtually anybody would—no one expects that to be an issue for the player on the cusp of setting the league’s all-time record for made three-pointers.

Robinson is 28, Griner is 26. The Mercury are betting that the expected peaks of these two will dovetail with the final few years of Taurasi’s career—though expecting a typical decline phase from Taurasi might be premature, considering how often she likes to shatter expectations.

PHOENIX, AZ – MAY 14: Danielle Robinson
PHOENIX, AZ – MAY 14: Danielle Robinson /

How young players like Alexis Prince, Stephanie Talbot and veteran DeWanna Bonner, who is missing the 2017 season due to pregnancy all fit into the plan will be a fascinating set of answers forthcoming from Phoenix general manager Jim Pitman.

But with Taurasi in the fold, we now know what the Mercury will look like through the end of the decade. And whatever problems remain in need of solving, they’ve certainly addressed their biggest concerns with a big three to take on the league.