Reigning WNBA champion inks veterans to multi-year deals

Mercury Re-Signs Taylor and Johnson

Posted: April 16, 2010

The Phoenix Mercury announced today that the club has re-signed two-time All-Star veteran forward Penny Taylor and five-year veteran point guard Temeka Johnson to multi-year contracts. Per team policy, the terms of the deals were not disclosed.

“It should be no surprise how crucial we think these two players are to our organization,” said General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale. “Penny Taylor is regarded as one of the top players in the world and has been invaluable in this club’s championship success. In just one season last year, Temeka has shown her true potential to be a championship-caliber floor general, and is also a key component to our success. With Penny and Meek in Mercury uniforms, I couldn’t be more confident in our chances to defend our title.”

“Phoenix has become my second home,” said Taylor. “Winning championships and playing in front of such incredible fans – there is no other place I’d rather be. I’m looking forward to contributing to our success in any way I can over the next few years.”

In 2009, Taylor returned to the Mercury midseason (July 17, 2009) after missing the 2008 WNBA season due to commitments with her native country Australia for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2009, her fifth season with Phoenix, Taylor appeared in 14 games for the Mercury, posting averages of 10.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 20.2 minutes per game. She recorded double-figures in scoring in nine of 14 games played, and scored 15 or more on four occasions.

Taylor was also a critical piece to the Mercury 2007 championship run. In her most recent full season with Phoenix in 2007, Taylor averaged career-highs in scoring (17.8) and rebounds (6.3) and posted a team-best five 30-points games. During the 2007 postseason, she posted 19.3 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds to help lead the Mercury to a 7-2 (.778) postseason record and the Valley’s first professional basketball championship.

Taylor, entering her ninth season in the WNBA, owns career averages of 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists through 226 career games. Taylor is a two-time WNBA Champion (2009, 2007), two-time WNBA All-Star (2007, 2002), 2007 All-WNBA First Teamer and two-time Olympian for Australia (2008, 2004).

Temeka Johnson enjoyed a breakout season in her first season with the Mercury in 2009. She started all 34 games for the first time since her Rookie of the Year campaign (2005 with Washington) and posted career-highs in scoring (9.6) and rebounding (3.5), while averaging 4.6 assists per game, good for fifth-best in the league. She shot 44.5 percent from the field, her highest-shooting percentage since her rookie season in 2005, including a career-high 41.4 percent from the three-point line.

“Coming to Phoenix last year and being a part of this team, playing in Coach Gaines' system and winning the championship was a dream come true,” said Johnson. “I can't wait to get back to defend the title for this city and these great fans!”

Johnson, who enters her sixth season (second with Phoenix), owns WNBA averages of 7.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 134 career games. She was acquired from Los Angeles on March 26, 2009 in a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for the Mercury’s 2010 first-round draft pick, which ended up being the last pick in the first round (12).