The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Brittney Griner re-signs with Phoenix Mercury
Brittney Griner will be back in the WNBA this season, once again playing with the Phoenix Mercury.
Griner, who was a free agent, re-signed with the team Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Griner had said she would return to Phoenix in a social media post in December, after she returned home from her 10-month detainment in Russia. Griner had been arrested at an airport just outside of Moscow on drug possession charges a year ago and was brought home in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange in December.
“We missed BG every day that she was gone and, while basketball was not our primary concern, her presence on the floor, in our locker room, around our organization, and within our community was greatly missed,” Mercury GM Jim Pitman said. “We will continue to use the resources of our organization to support her, on and off the floor, and we are thrilled for her that she gets to return to basketball, which she loves so dearly. This is a special signing and today is a special day for all of us.”
The 6-foot-9 center last played for the Mercury in 2021 and helped the team reach the WNBA Finals. She averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds that season.
Griner, who was drafted No. 1 in 2013 by the Mercury, was listed Saturday on Phoenix’s roster on the WNBA website.
Since returning home from Russia, Griner has been out of the public spotlight, with the exception of appearances at the Super Bowl, the Phoenix Open and an MLK Day event in Phoenix, where she lives.
NBA NETS GIVE COACH JACQUE
VAUGHN MULTIYEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION >> Jacque Vaughn, who has coached the Brooklyn Nets into playoff position despite the trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during another turbulent season for the franchise, has agreed to a multiyear contract extension.
Vaughn replaced Steve Nash early in the season and the Nets announced Tuesday they were extending his deal. Terms were not disclosed, though general manager Sean Marks said the Nets looked forward to Vaughn leading the team “for years to come.”
“Jacque has made an immediate and immeasurable impact on our entire organization since assuming the role of head coach earlier this season,” Marks said in a news release.
BULLS RULE BALL OUT FOR
SEASON BECAUSE OF KNEE TROUBLE >> The Chicago Bulls ruled point guard Lonzo Ball out for the season on Tuesday because of lingering discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee.
The team said the focus now will be on resolving the discomfort he feels performing “high level basketball-related activities” and making “a full return” for next season.
Ball hasn’t played since Jan. 14, 2022. He had surgery for a torn meniscus a few weeks later and experienced setbacks when he tried to ramp up basketball activities.
The Bulls had him rest for 10 days at one point, hoping it would resolve the issue and allow him to return. But he felt pain again when he started preparing to play.
VEGAS AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING
UNLV FOOTBALL PLAYER DEATH >> Authorities in Las Vegas are investigating the death of a 20-year-old UNLV football player from Chicago who was found unresponsive in bed in a studio apartment, officials said Tuesday.
The Clark County coroner said a cause and manner of Rebels defensive lineman Ryan Keeler’s death was pending following his death on Monday. Medical examiner blood toxicology test results can take several weeks.
Las Vegas police Officer Robert Wicks said an investigation of Keeler’s unexpected death remained open pending coroner and detective findings.
UNLV head coach Barry Odom announced Keeler’s death on Monday, saying that since the 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive lineman arrived by transfer from Rutgers University, he stood out to coaches as “an incredible person, student and teammate.”
NEW-LOOK AAC RELEASES
‘23 FOOTBALL SLATE WITH 6 NEW SCHOOLS >> The American Athletic Conference on Tuesday released its 2023 football schedule that includes the league’s six incoming teams.
Each of the 14 AAC teams will play eight conference games in a single-division format. The top two teams in the standings will play in the conference championship game on Dec. 2.
Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA all officially join the AAC on July 1. Their move from Conference USA will be completed at the same time that current AAC members Cincinnati, Houston and UCF depart for the Big 12 Conference.
Reigning AAC champion Tulane opens the season with four of its first five games at home. It opens at home on Sept. 2 against South Alabama, then hosts Southeastern Conference team Mississippi the next week.
Baseball ASTROS’ ALVAREZ HAS SORE
HAND, WON’T TAKE BP FOR A FEW DAYS >> Houston Astros All-Star Yordan Alvarez has a sore left hand that will keep him out of batting practice for a few days in spring training.
Alvarez told reporters on Tuesday that soreness in the hand was an issue at times last year and continued to “flare up a bit at times” during the offseason.
Despite the soreness, Alvarez hit .306 with 37 homers and 97 RBIs and finished third in the AL MVP voting for the World Series champion Astros.
Speaking through a translator, Alvarez said he told team officials about the sore hand when he reported to camp.
“It’s just something we’re going to monitor,” said Alvarez, a native of Cuba. “I felt a little bit of discomfort but it’s something we’re going to monitor and work on.
I’m going to take the next couple days off here like I did in the offseason and prepare but it’s not something that’s going to be an issue during the season.”
CHAPMAN CAN EARN UP TO
$8.75M IF HE REBOUNDS WITH ROYALS >> Aroldis Chapman can earn up to $8.75 million as part of his one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals if he regains a job as a regular closer.
The left-hander, who turns 35 on Feb. 28, is guaranteed $3.75 million under the deal announced Jan. 27.
Chapman can earn $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on games: $312,500 for 20 and for each additional five through 55. He also can earn $2.5 million based on games finished: $312,500 for 12 and for each additional four through 40.
Golf WOODS, MCILROY BREAK
GROUND ON HIGH-TECH GOLF LEAGUE SITE >> Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy put the silver-plated shovels into a pile of dirt and left sizable divots.
With that, their hightech golf league got a bit closer to launch.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the arena that will house the league that’s being called TGL was held Tuesday at Palm Beach State College, with Woods and McIlroy — two of the co-founders of TMRW Sports — there for the first step of actual construction.
TMRW — pronounced “tomorrow” — says TGL play will begin early next year, and the league will be in partnership with the PGA Tour. Woods and McIlroy,
so far, have 11 players committed to the league. Besides them, the league will include world No. 1 Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele.
NHL AVALANCHE DEFENSEMAN
CALE MAKAR BACK IN CONCUSSION PROTOCOL >> Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is back in concussion protocol after taking contact to his head for a second time in under two weeks, another blow for the defending Stanley Cup champions and their reigning playoff MVP.
Coach Jared Bednar provided the update on Makar’s status Tuesday, ruling out the 24-year-old Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner for at least the team’s next two games Friday and Saturday.
Makar was reinjured early in the third period Saturday in his first game back when St. Louis forward Alexey Toropchenko made contact with his head. He already missed Colorado’s game Sunday against Edmonton.
Bednar said Makar’s head injuries were “obviously related” and did not think the play Saturday alone would have caused this development.
Makar had been out since taking a hit to the head on Feb. 7 from Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter. Bednar said Makar passed all the NHL’s concussion testing to clear protocol and told team medical staff that he felt good about returning.