Phoenix Mercury, former WNBA MVP Tina Charles part after 18 games

Former MVP Tina Charles and the Phoenix Mercury have parted ways in a surprising development for last season’s WNBA runner-up team.

The Mercury announced Saturday that the franchise and Charles had agreed to terms on an immediate contract divorce.

“After discussions with Tina and her agent, it was best for both parties to go our separate ways at this time,” Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said. “Due to circumstances both in and out of our control, our season has not gone according to our plan, and we will continue to pursue all avenues for improvement.”

Charles was averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds for the 6-12 Mercury, who have been without center Brittney Griner all season, as she is being detained in Russia. The Mercury also have dealt with various injuries and illness in their first season under coach Vanessa Nygaard, after making the WNBA Finals last year under coach Sandy Brondello.

The Mercury signed Charles in February to a reported one-year deal of $108,000. Charles was the WNBA’s scoring leader in 2021 after averaging 23.4 points while playing for the Washington Mystics. She didn’t play in the league in the 2020 COVID-19 bubble season in Bradenton, Florida.

The No. 1 draft pick in 2010 out of UConn, Charles played with the Connecticut Sun from 2010-13 and with New York from 2014-2019. She was the 2012 WNBA MVP and has been an eight-time All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist. She won two NCAA titles at UConn, but has not won a WNBA championship.

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