Brittney Griner will return to the WNBA for the 2023 season after reportedly signing a one-year deal with the Phoenix Mercury following a 10-month detainment in Russia.
Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February 2023 for bringing under a gram of cannabis oil into Russia in vape cartridges.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist said she made an “honest mistake”, with her lawyers arguing she was using the cannabis for medicinal purposes and was unaware of its illegal status in Russia.
She was subsequently jailed for nine years for drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent, but was released in December in a prisoner exchange that saw convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout return to Russia.
Griner stated she planned to play for the Mercury in 2023 following her return to the United States, and the team have reportedly agreed a deal for the eight-time WNBA All-Star to feature in the upcoming season.
Griner was drafted first overall by the Mercury in 2013, going on win the 2014 WNBA championship by sweeping the Chicago Sky in the finals.
Her last game for the team before her imprisonment also came against the Sky in a 2021 WNBA finals defeat after one of the best seasons of her career, during which she averaged 20.5 points, 1.9 blocks and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Griner will look to help the Mercury bounce back after suffering a first-round exit in the WNBA Playoffs in August, with the team set to begin their 2023 campaign against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.