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Brittney Griner away from road-tripping Mercury due to mental health reasons

Brittney Griner will not travel with the Phoenix Mercury for their next two games to focus on her mental health, the organization said Saturday.

The All-Star center returned to the WNBA this year after her release from a Russian prison. She was arrested and jailed over a drug charge in Russia that resulted in the U.S. conducting a prisoner swap for her. Convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout was sent back to Russia as part of the deal.

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Brittney Griner shoots

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner makes a layup during the second quarter against the Mystics, July 23, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

In her return, Griner has averaged 18.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 20 games. She missed the entire 2022 season while she was imprisoned overseas.

“The Mercury fully support Brittney and we will continue to work together on a timeline for her return,” the Mercury said.

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Brittney Griner and Sophie Cunningham

Brittney Griner #42 and Sophie Cunningham of the Phoenix Mercury are shown during the game against the Atlanta Dream on July 25, 2023, at Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Griner’s success on the court hasn’t translated into much winning. Phoenix is 6-17 on the year and fired coach Vanessa Nygaard earlier in the season.

Griner and her Mercury teammates were also confronted at the Dallas airport by a so-called “provocateur.” Additionally, the center has been dealing with a hip issue.

Phoenix is on the road against the Chicago Sky and the Indiana Fever.

Brittney Griner vs Georgia

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury warms up before the game against the Atlanta Dream at Gateway Center Arena on July 25, 2023, in College Park, Georgia. (Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

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Without Griner on Sunday, the Mercury fell to the Sky, 104-85.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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