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Skylar Diggins-Smith: What to know about Mercury star’s status

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

The status of Phoenix Mercury star Skylar Diggins-Smith remains up in the air for the 2023 WNBA season.

Diggins-Smith gave birth to her second child earlier this year, and she started the WNBA season on maternity leave. The 32-year-old has been seen on social media putting up shots, but whether she will sit out the season or return to the court (and to the Mercury) is an open question.

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.

After the end of the season, she announced her pregnancy. She missed the 2019 WNBA season after giving birth to her son that spring, which sets a precedent for the guard missing the 2023 season after the recent birth of her daughter.

The relationship between Diggins-Smith and head coach Vanessa Nygaard was rocky, including when she tweeted a clown emoji in response to comments from the coach. But the team parted ways with Nygaard after a 2-10 start.

Still, players and team personnel have remained mum on her status.

“She’s one of the top players in the whole league and when you’re done having a child, who knows how long it takes your body to get back?” Mercury guard Sophie Cunningham said Saturday. “It’s up in the air. We know as much as you. And so that’s that.”

Mercury center Brittney Griner, who was recently named an All-Star starter, said Diggins-Smith congratulated her on the honor. But she did not speculate on a possible return date for Diggins-Smith.

“Above my paygrade, that’s a great question for the people above me,” Griner said when asked about Diggins-Smith’s status. “Last night, she hit me and told me congrats on the All-Star, and I asked her how the fam’s doing, how everything’s going. People get too tied up in basketball. We’re all human, we have families and we have other things that are bigger than basketball. It was good to talk to her.”

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.” Following this season, Diggins-Smith is a free agent.

The guard recently told Essence that she’s in no rush to get back, noting that returning from pregnancy is “a process.”

“Your body changes and everybody carries differently. You just have to really sit back and realize what you’ve done, what your body has done,” she said. “Give your body time to heal, give your body time to recover, give yourself grace during this time. It’s a process.

“I’m not really worried about snapping back. I just want to enjoy this time with my daughter.”