Mercury’s Skylar Diggins-Smith to Miss Rest of Regular Season Due to Personal Reasons

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 11, 2022

M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Phoenix Mercury announced Skylar Diggins-Smith will miss their two remaining regular-season games for personal reasons.

The six-time All-Star was out for Phoenix's last two games.

The Mercury said they will sign a player to a hardship contract ahead of Friday's game against the Dallas Wings.

Diggins-Smith is the team leader in points (19.7) and assists (5.5). The 32-year-old has been one of the few consistent bright spots for a team that has seen little go right.

Her injury is yet another twist in Phoenix's 2022 season.

Star center Brittney Griner remains detained in Russia. While her absence has obviously impacted the team on the court, her plight has never been far from the minds of her teammates.

Diggins-Smith told reporters following a 77-64 loss to the Connecticut Sun that "nobody wanted to even play today" in the wake of Griner's guilty verdict in a Russian court.

"How are you supposed to approach the game with a clear mind when the whole group is crying before the game?" she said.

The Mercury have experienced other setbacks.

Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi got into an argument on the bench in an 86-74 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on May 17.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi had to be separated after a heated exchange on the bench. <a href="https://t.co/QGCghYuHAf">pic.twitter.com/QGCghYuHAf</a>

The team agreed to a contract divorce with 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles in mid-June, bringing an end to her run in Phoenix after 16 appearances.

In a since-deleted tweet, Diggins-Smith appeared to call Vanessa Nygaard a clown based on the first-year head coach's comments about Taurasi not being named an All-Star.

While saying she was "really, really happy for Skylar," Nygaard told reporters how the 2022 edition of the annual showcase "will not be an All-Star Game because Diana Taurasi is not playing." Some thought the coach diminished Diggins-Smith's All-Star nod with the remark.

jeffmetcalfe @jeffmetcalfe

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mercury?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mercury</a> coach Vanessa Nygaard on Diana Taurasi not being named to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> All-Star team <a href="https://t.co/9F3Dnb9a1g">pic.twitter.com/9F3Dnb9a1g</a>

And Taurasi will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a quad strain.

At 14-20, the Mercury have the same record as three other teams in the race for the final two playoff spots. By virtue of a tiebreaker, they're 10th in the standings.

Between losing Taurasi and now Diggins-Smith, overtaking the Atlanta Dream and ninth-place New York Liberty becomes an even tougher challenge for Nygaard and her players. The Wings (17-17) aren't pushovers, and the Mercury finish up with the Chicago Sky, who own the WNBA's best record (25-9).

jeffmetcalfe @jeffmetcalfe

Virtually every <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> playoff scenario requires <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mercury?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mercury</a> to go 2-0 and get some help to advance

Phoenix has lost four of its last five games, with Wednesday's 86-77 defeat to the Minnesota Lynx a costly one. Making it five out of six Friday could be a decisive blow to the Mercury's postseason hopes.


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