Phoenix Mercury remain hopeful for Brittney Griner's release after US exchange offer

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The Phoenix Mercury are currently interlocked in a tight race for the postseason, but current events surrounding Brittney Griner are heavily on the team’s minds.

On Wednesday it was revealed that the Biden administration offered a deal aimed at bringing home Griner and another jailed American Paul Whelan from Russia.

More: Brittney Griner photos from Russian prison a reminder to Arizona basketball fans, everyone

It was the first statement since Griner was detained in February in which the U.S. government publicly revealed any concrete action to secure the release of Griner.

“That this has become the front of news has been a positive that we’re keeping these things in front of our media and getting a lot of attention to this and hopefully that will result in BG coming home,” Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said.

On Wednesday, the Mercury took its annual team photo and made sure to include Griner with the team holding up signs indicating it was 160 days since she was detained.

Following Thursday's win against the Los Angeles Sparks, Diana Taurasi offered her thoughts on her longtime teammate.

“It’s a huge step for BG and bringing her home. These things as we saw and as we know aren’t as cut and dry as we think it would be. We’re just making sure that the U.S. government and President Biden, they have all hands on deck to get BG home and all the other detainees in Russia," Taurasi said. It’s heartbreaking when you see the clips of BG. It really hits home that we want her home and we really miss her here. Her family misses her badly, Cherelle (her wife) misses her badly. We just keep pushing, and that’s all we can do is make sure that BG is at the forefront and all the other detainees as well.”

For subscribers: Russian media unmoved by US offer of Viktor Bout in swap for Griner

Griner is currently on trial and was recently shown wearing a Mercury sweatshirt during Wednesday’s court appearance.

“It was great to see pictures of her and see her in her Phoenix Mercury shirt. It just broke my heart along with how they do their trials with her in a cage,” Nygaard said. “But to see her in her Mercury shirt was a great reminder that she is a member of our community and she’s an important person to the Valley. Just hopeful that this is progress towards her safe return.”

Reach the reporter at or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Mercury, Diana Taurasi remain hopeful for Brittney Griner's release