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The 2022 WNBA Draft began Monday night, but not before commissioner Cathy Engelbert expressed concern and offered her support for Phoenix Mercury veteran Brittney Griner, who remains in custody in Russia.
Engelbert said, per ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel:
“This is an unimaginable situation for BG. They continue to have our full support. Certainly, we are trying everything we can, from all angles, working with their legal representation, their agent, elected officials, the administration Just everyone in our ecosystem to try and find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as possible.”
Engelbert added that the WNBA knows she’s safe, but they “want to bring her home,” which she Noted was the league’s “top priority” in his opening comments.
“We’re taking the advice…not a day goes by that we don’t talk to someone who has opinions about what we’ve done and how we’re moving forward,” Engelbert continued.
“I know we’re all frustrated but we have to be patient. The players have been amazing following the advice they and we are getting so as not to compromise his safety in any way.”
Griner was arrested by the Russian Federal Customs Service at a Moscow airport in February after allegedly finding vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. If found guilty, she could spend a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The 31-year-old plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia’s women’s basketball premier league during the WNBA offseason. The league took a two-week break in February for FIBA World Cup qualifying matches and returned to action on February 23.
Griner was selected first overall by the Mercury in the 2013 WNBA Draft. She went on to a highly successful career, earning seven All-Star selections in nine seasons.
It’s unclear when Griner might return to the United States. The WNBA season is set to start in May, and the Mercury could be missing here. However, Phoenix should receive “roster relief” from the league, according to ESPN. Holly Rowe.