Taurasi to skip 2015 WNBA season

Phoenix, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Five-time WNBA scoring champion Diana Taurasi has decided to sit out the upcoming 2015 season for rest purposes, the Phoenix Mercury announced Tuesday.

Taurasi's contract with UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian Premier League team she plays for when the WNBA is in its offseason, includes a clause that will pay the All-Star guard during the summer. According to ESPN.com, the amount is greater than the salary she earns with the Mercury.

The 2009 WNBA MVP earns nearly $1.5 million annually from UMMC Ekaterinburg, ESPN reported. The maximum salary for a WNBA player is $107,000 per season.

Taurasi, whose 6,722 career points ranks second in WNBA history, said she plans on returning to the Mercury in 2016.

"This was a decision I felt was in my best interest, both now and for the future," she said. "I look forward to being back on the court in front of the best fans in the WNBA in 2016."

Taurasi has been playing professionally in Europe during WNBA offseasons since 2006.

"An athlete's career is finite, and we support any choice Diana makes in the best interest of her long-term health and which has the potential to prolong her career," Mercury general manager Jim Pitman said in a statement. "We know how much Diana cares about the Mercury organization, team and fans."

Since being taken by Phoenix with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 WNBA Draft, Taurasi has helped the Mercury to three league championships, the most recent coming last season. The 32-year-old was named the MVP of the 2014 Finals after averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 assists during Phoenix's three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky.

Taurasi also won the 2014 WNBA scoring title after averaging 20.1 points over 33 regular-season games. The three-time Olympic gold medalist added 5.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per outing in leading the Mercury to a league-best 29-5 record.