Taylor Not Returning to Mercury This Season

HAINING, China (AP) — Penny Taylor won't return to the Phoenix Mercury when the Olympics end.

Taylor took off the first half of the season to train with Australia and prepare for the Beijing Games. Now, she has decided not to go back to the WNBA.

"I did make it clear to the team that I wouldn't be coming back this season after the Olympics," Taylor told The Associated Press while practicing at the FIBA Diamond Ball tournament. "I want them to be able to get a team together and didn't want to leave any doors open."

Instead she will head home to Australia to spend time with her family and rest.

The defending champion Mercury sit three games behind third place Los Angeles and Sacramento in the Western Conference. Taylor was a huge part of their championship run last season, averaging 17.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for Phoenix last season. She scored 30 points in the deciding fifth game of the WNBA finals last year.

"I wanted to make sure they had their opportunity to get a full strength team and not wait for anyone," Taylor said. "It's disappointing, but it gave me the opportunity to prepare for this major event."

Taylor's decision caught her Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi off guard.

"Whoa, that's the first I'm hearing of it," said Taurasi over breakfast. "It just means the same thing it's meant the last two months. We'll go with what we have. We just got to keep playing and fighting. We're good enough if we get rolling as we've beaten the good teams. We've just been too average. This league is very good, and we're just not playing at a good level."