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Skylar Diggins-Smith says she can’t use Mercury facilities

Skylar Diggins-Smith gave birth to her second child ahead of the 2023 season. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Skylar Diggins-Smith, who is on maternity leave, is unable to use the Phoenix Mercury’s practice facilities or any other team resources, she said Thursday.

The 33-year-old guard has been on maternity leave since the start of the 2023 WNBA season after giving birth to her second child earlier this year. While she has been seen practicing her game in social media videos, her return to the court this season remains an open question.

The six-time WNBA All-Star is under contract with the Mercury. Yet while coach Vanessa Nygaard – with whom Diggins-Smith had a tenuous relationship – was fired in June, the team and Diggins-Smith remain at odds.

In a series of social media posts Thursday, Diggins-Smith said she is barred from using the team’s facility and resources. The initial post came in response to fan, who noticed that the team had not wished Diggins-Smith a happy birthday. Diggins-Smith turned 33 on Aug. 2.

“They’re not gonna acknowledge me this year and it’s OK guys,” she said. “We’re not affiliated unless it’s the checks… per management. I can’t even use the practice facility or any resources.”

She then clarified which resources she is going without but which “EVERY other player has access to,” including massage therapists, chiropractors, chefs, strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionists.

“I’m fine with being distanced… (because) now I can’t possibly be the villain anymore,” she wrote.

Local reporter Sarah Kezele reported that the lack of access for Diggins-Smith “is related to her personal relationship with the organization at the moment, not the fact that she is on maternity leave.”

Earlier this season, Phoenix players remained mum about her return, but several – including Brittney Griner – noted that they had spoken with her this season.

But Mercury general manager Jim Pitman, when asked directly if he would like to see Diggins-Smith in a Mercury uniform this season, said only that “she’s on maternity leave right now.”

Diggins-Smith missed the last four games of the 2022 regular season and Phoenix’s opening-round playoff series against the eventual champion Las Vegas Aces for personal reasons, the team said at the time. She averaged 19.7 points in 30 games up to that point.

“It was all good when I was leaving for personal time!! But when I’m leaving because I was having complications and scared of risking my child… while leading the league in minutes (pregnant). Trade her?” she wrote Thursday, alluding to issues with the team dating back to the 2022 season.