Tina Charles, Mercury Agree to 'Contract Divorce' Amid Phoenix's Struggles

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJune 25, 2022

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 17: Tina Charles #31 of the Phoenix Mercury dribbles the ball during the game against the Dallas Wings on June 17, 2022 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Mercury announced that the team and center Tina Charles have agreed to a "contract divorce," thus immediately ending her nearly five-month tenure with the team.

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Charles' resume includes the 2012 WNBA MVP, eight WNBA All-Star honors and five placements on the All-WNBA first team, among other accolades. The former UConn star has also won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA.

The 33-year-old is also a four-time rebounding champion and two-time scoring champion who led the league with 23.4 points per game last year as a member of the Washington Mystics.

The Mercury made some seismic moves this offseason after falling short in the 2021 WNBA Finals to the Chicago Sky by adding Diamond DeShields via trade and Charles in a signing announced on Feb. 4.

However, this season has not gone as planned.

Phoenix has gone through the entire campaign without superstar center Brittney Griner, who is currently being detained in Russia after officials claimed they found cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17. The State Department reclassified Griner as "wrongfully detained" in May. She has been detained for a total of 128 days.

Without Griner, the 6-12 Mercury have lost three straight games and sport the third-worst record in the league. Their defensive efficiency ranks second-last in the league, per Basketball Reference. The season also just reached its nadir following back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Lynx, who were last in the league with a 3-13 record before facing Phoenix.

Charles has done well, averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. With that, she's now the most valuable available free agent out there, and teams should be clamoring to land her for the back half of the year.

As for Phoenix, this is appearing to be a lost season. The Mercury are only three-and-a-half games back of Atlanta Dream for the final playoff spot with 18 matchups to go, but they've been going in the wrong direction ever since an early 2-1 start.

Sans Charles, the Mercury will open the second half of their 2022 season against the Dallas Wings on the road Saturday.