Storm sign former MVP Tina Charles for the rest of season

Dallas Wings’ Kayla Thornton, front left, and Marina Mabrey, right, defend as Phoenix Mercury center Tina Charles (31) shoots in the second half of a WNBA basketball game, Friday, June 17, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

SEATTLE — Tina Charles’ quest for an elusive WNBA title has brought her to Seattle following a messy end to her brief time in Phoenix.

The Storm signed the five-time first-team all-WNBA center for the rest of the season on Tuesday, three days after she was let go by Phoenix in a messy divorce from the Mercury.


Charles didn’t give specifics as to what led to her separation from the Mercury, saying she was looking ahead at the opportunity provided in Seattle.

“I have a small window and there’s a way that I want to play with the time I have left playing. There’s the way I want to be coached,” Charles said. “So just knowing about the culture here, having good relationship with Sue (Bird) made it really easy when just looking at the window and being at the halfway mark of the season and just what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Charles, 33, was averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 16 games this season with the Mercury before the sides agreed to end her contract last weekend. She’s expected to make her debut with Seattle on Wednesday night against Las Vegas.

The WNBA’s leading scorer last season with Washington, Charles signed with Phoenix in February, a day after the Mercury added Diamond DeShields in a three-team trade with Chicago and New York. The additions were expected to give the Mercury a huge boost to a roster that already had Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 after authorities at an airport outside of Moscow said she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her bag. She faces trial starting Friday.

Even with the addition of Charles, the Mercury struggled badly.

“It was extremely hard because the decision that I made didn’t just impact my life, but it impacted those in Phoenix and it’s something I think about all the time,” Charles said. “But at some point you do what’s best for you and your career and what you’re trying to get out of it.”

Charles will become the fourth overall No. 1 pick on the Storm roster along with Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart. All four played on the U.S. team that won gold at last year’s Olympics.

Charles averaged a career-high 23.4 points last season with the Mystics. She was the league MVP in 2012.

“We are excited to add one of the premier players in our league to our roster,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said. “Tina is a prolific scorer who brings veteran experience and adds depth to our front court. We look forward to seeing the immediate impact she can make for our team.”

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