She’s one of the sports most decorated stars, fresh off of her third WNBA title. Diana Taurasi has decided that she will sit out the 2015 WNBA season, one of the reasons being that she can finally have an ‘offseason’ for the first time in her 10 year career. The other, she won’t be missing much on the financial side of things.
The Russian Premier League team that she plays for during the WNBA’s offseason is willing to pay her to not play in the upcoming WNBA season. While she makes just under league maximum in the WNBA ($107,000), she is paid much better in Russia, a whopping 1.5 million. According to ESPN’s Kate Fagan, the Russian team is going to pay Taurasi her WNBA salary and a bit extra to sit out.
Fagan also said that this is common for the top tier players in the WNBA, that their European clubs try to compensate them to avoid playing in the WNBA. Similar to how NBA teams try to keep some of their best players from playing for Team USA.
While this is a good opportunity for Diana to get some much needed rest, as the 33-year-old has a ton of miles on her legs, what does it mean for the rest of the WNBA?
The WNBA must change how they operate, there were more than 30 players in the league making what DT made. That’s completely absurd, in the NBA there are only a few players making ‘max’ money. It’s hard for teams to afford more than two max players and field a competitive team, players have to take pay cuts and make up the money through endorsements.
How many true ‘max’ players are there in the WNBA? There may not be more than the players that make the USA team, so give or take there’s probably 12-15 players deserving of that $107,000 a season. That would at least establish financial structure, no matter the league, the best players should be compensated more than the average or above average players. As talented a league as the WNBA is, with so many good young players, there are not 30 ‘max’ players in that league, it’d be hard to make a list of 20.
Fortunately for the WNBA, the players are proud of the product and want to grow the league that is based on their home soil. How long can that last though, European teams aren’t going to quit offering compensation for players to sit out the WNBA season. Will the WNBA fix their pay structure?
What do you think of Diana’s decision and will this become a ‘thing’ for the league to worry about? Also, will the Mercury be able to defend their title without their best player? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!