PHOENIX – The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury today announced the signing of veteran guard Leilani (lay-LON-ee) Mitchell. Mitchell will re-join the team at practice today, will travel with the team and be available to play during its upcoming three-game road trip.
“We explored every option to avoid having to waive Lei last month, but the WNBA’s hard salary cap and limited roster spots made it unavoidable,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “There was no guarantee that she would clear waivers but when she did, she became an unrestricted free agent, and our priority was to re-sign her. Lei is a high-level point guard and one of the game’s best outside shooters. She is beloved by our entire organization, including her teammates and coaches, as well as the X-Factor. We are thrilled that she wants to be in Phoenix as much as we want her here.”
The 5-foot-5 Mitchell is a 38.9-percent career three-point shooter, tied for the fifth-best career mark among active WNBA players and the 20th-best in the history of the league. Mitchell has spent the last two seasons in Phoenix, while also appearing in 34 games for the Mercury in 2015. One of the league’s best shooters, Mitchell finished fourth in the WNBA in three-point percentage (39.9 percent) in 2015 and seventh in three-pointers made (44), and previously led the league in three-point percentage in 2010 with a 48.6 percent clip from long range. Mitchell was named the league’s Most Improved Player that season after finishing second that season in three-point field goals (72), trailing only current teammate Diana Taurasi.
After battling a foot injury during the 2018 regular season with the Mercury in which she averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 assists, Mitchell was once again healthy over the winter while playing for the UC Capitals in Australia, guiding her team to the WNBL Championship. She averaged 12.4 points, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals in 24 games, while shooting 41.7 percent (60-of-144) from three-point range.
The daughter of an Australian mother and American father, Mitchell was raised in the U.S. and became an Australian citizen in 2014. In 2016, she played in her first Olympic Games, representing Australia in Rio, and also won a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships. A longtime member of the WNBL, Australia’s professional women’s league, Mitchell has twice been named the league’s best point guard (2014, 2016) as a member of the All-Star Five. Mitchell missed all but 10 games of the WNBA season in 2016 due to national team commitments, signing with the Washington Mystics after Rio.
After coming within one win of trip to the WNBA Finals, the Phoenix Mercury return in 2019 in search of a league-record tying fourth WNBA title. Led by the All-Star trio of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix opens its title quest on May 25 at Seattle on ABC. Tickets for the Mercury’s next home game on Friday, June 14 against the Los Angeles Sparks, and the remaining 15 home games, at Talking Stick Resort Arena can be purchased by calling 602.252.WNBA or by visiting PhoenixMercury.com.
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