The Phoenix Mercury lost their only East Valley connection Thursday when former Chandler High School star Lindsay Taylor was among the team’s final cuts.
Phoenix also released forward Tamara Moore and guards Jae Cross and Rita Williams as it trimmed its roster to 12 players. WNBA teams are allowed to carry 13 players, 11 active and up to two on the injured list or suspended list.
General manager Seth Sulka said the Mercury will decide today which player will be inactive to start the season. Phoenix’s opener is Saturday at home against the Sacramento Monarchs.
Starters Penny Taylor and Kamila Vodichkova, who played overseas in the offseason, have yet to report but are expected to join the team no later than June 1. A few players in camp are nursing minor injuries, but if they are all determined to be ready to go, either Taylor or Vodichkova could be classified as suspended until reporting, Sulka said.
Lindsay Taylor, a 6-foot-8 center, spent most of 2004, her rookie season, on the injured list with a strained right Achilles tendon but came into camp 100 percent healthy. She averaged 0.6 points and 0.6 rebounds in five games last year.
Moore is a three-year veteran who spent part of 2003 and all of 2004 with the Mercury. She appeared in 32 games with Phoenix last season and averaged 2.6 points, 1.7 assists and 0.9 rebounds.
Cross, a New Zealand native, played with Detroit in 2001 and with Detroit and Phoenix in ‘04. In 13 games with the Mercury, she averaged 1.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.9 assists.
Williams is a former all-star who played for three teams from 1998-2003. She has been out of the league since.
Second-year Mercury coach Carrie Graf, who also has seven years experience as a head coach in the Australian professional league, said these were the toughest cuts she’s ever had to make.
"I think so. Particularly since we cut three people who were part of our team last year," Graf said.
"We made these decisions in part based on the young talent we added to our group."
Draft picks Sandora Irvin and Angelina Williams both made the team as did freeagent signees Vodichkova and Belinda Snell.
Sulka said he wouldn’t be surprised to see those players cut hook on with other teams in the near future.
"These moves speak to the depth on this team and the depth in this league," Sulka said. "They’ve all shown they can play in this league."
The Mercury could make another roster move, the signing of Lisa Harrison, as early as today, Sulka said. Harrison played for Phoenix from 1999-2003 but retired in 2004 because of knee injuries. She was an assistant coach last year and still holds the same title but has been working out with the team in hopes of a comeback. Last month, Harrison said she expects to be able to play this season.