When Diana Taurasi signed her new contract extension with the Phoenix Mercury, there was a crucial detail left out -- the deal was only for one additional year.
Unfortunately, unlike the NBA where contract information is readily available, the WBNA has a strict policy about this kind of detail. It's unfortunate the league feels the need to guard this information so closely, since understanding a team's contract and salary cap situation is a big part of being a fan these days.
Regardless, it just means we have to dig a bit harder to uncover the facts and, in this case, SB Nation Arizona was able to learn from a league source that Taurasi's recent contract extension only keeps her in Phoenix through the 2011 season.
But don't panic, Taurasi doesn't seem to have any intention of leaving the desert any time soon and made it clear when we spoke after practice today that her intent was to help the team.
"A longer term deal you would think would be a good idea, but I'm at the point where I'm probably never going to leave Phoenix anyway," Taurasi said when asked about why she only signed for one more year.
"So if every year I can, depending on free agency and what we need to get accomplished in the offseason, if I can give this team extra room to maneuver, then I'll do it. To be locked up for four years like I did last time doesn't really give us that."
We've not yet been able to confirm (or deny) that Taurasi's salary was anything less than the maximum allowed under the league's collective bargaining agreement. When the team and Taurasi initially made a point about her taking less money, they certainly could have been talking about less total guaranteed money that comes with signing a short term deal.
We just don't know yet, but we'll keep working on it.
Obviously, we have to wonder if the one-year deal is related to Diana's indications that she's going to want to take some time off at some point. A shorter term deal gives her more leverage and flexibility to do that. And we can speculate that if (if) the deal was for less than the maximum, that could have come with some kind of agreement for her to miss a portion of the season.
It's an issue she addressed as well when we spoke on Monday.
"Rest is going to happen. I don't know when, but it's going to happen. This year (the WNBA season) started early because of World's (FIBA World Championships), but next year, hopefully, it will start at its regular date, which is late or mid-May, so that would be a nice time to take a little rest after nine months of being overseas."
Asked if she was talking about three or four weeks of rest, Taurasi responded, "Yeah, that would be ideal. At this point, a day off feels like a week sometimes, so it probably wouldn't take much."
Of course, Taurasi loves to play basketball and we suspect that for all her talk about taking time off, she would miss playing pretty fast.
"Against San Antonio, it might as well have been a back-to-back," Taurasi said when asked about the break between the first round and the second round of the playoffs. "I prefer that than sitting around for four days and doing nothing."
What is it Diana would do with a full month off from basketball?
Start a clothing line?
Sit on the beach?
Like most of us workaholics, I think the idea of time off would probably turn out to be more enticing than its reality.
Taurasi is wired to play basketball and compete. I think she understands that she will have a long part of her life ahead of her once she retires. A couple of weeks might be fine, but I can't imagine Diana taking more than a month off from playing until they force her into retirement at age 40 ... or, knowing Diana, more like 50.
The Phoenix Mercury announced today that star guard Diana Taurasi has signed a contract extension with the team. Details of her contract are not yet available, but Taurasi confirmed that she's accepted less money to allow the team more financial flexibility going forward.
"Our salary cap isn't the most flexible, so I think wherever you can get a little bit more room to make some moves in the off-season, it helps the team out a lot," she told the Arizona Republic. "Penny (Taylor) did it last year when she took less to keep some people in town. I think when you want to build a really great team, you have to sacrifice some things. And to me, (money) is the least of my concerns."
"My intention is to win a lot of championships in Phoenix," Taurasi said. "I'm happy to have this contract signed so we can focus on the playoffs and winning another title. We have a great nucleus of players to make a run at the championship this year and I am satisfied knowing the contract we've put together will give us the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities in the offseason."
Mercury President and General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale said this about Taurasi's decision, "Her decision to make personal sacrifices and structure a contract that allows us the flexibility to add other veteran players through free agency if the opportunity arises speaks volumes about her commitment to winning championships with the Phoenix Mercury."
It was also reported that Taurasi may decide against playing in the WNBA next season to give her body a rest after seven years of playing basketball year-round, including overseas stints in the WNBA offseason.
She may still take a break, reports say, but it appears unlikely she will take all of next season off.
"I think we put together a really good agreement for myself and for the team," said Taurasi, who is in the last year of her current three-year contract. "That pretty much solidifies that I'm coming back next year."