Brittany Griner, Karstens, Tom Firestone discussed on The Lead
Geopolitical negotiations. I met him once in the Clinton administration when he first came in. I don't think he has the edge, but he's clearly been very unhelpful to the United States. He very crafty guy. He hasn't played it straight, but he's, you know, he's somebody that he's a big player here. And when I asked Tom firestone about those two guys, you know, he made it clear that they wouldn't have gotten to where they are today if they were not exceptionally good at what they do. They're obviously both well respected. I mean, karstens would not have been appointed to that position. Unless there was great confidence in him and his ability to resolve these highly sensitive matters. Of karstens is obviously involved in the Reed case and successfully got mister readout. Richardson's has been involved in a number of these situations, you know, readers out. So I think that speaks well for both of them. There will, of course, be other people involved as well, but overall it looks like this very high powered team will not be giving Britney grinder's case a lot of attention. And so overall, this feels like a very positive development. It definitely seems like it, as Tom firestone pointed out, the U.S. government probably wouldn't have made this change in approach or announced a publicly if they didn't have some degree of confidence that they'll be able to get Brittany grinder out. When they make this statement, they are basically raising the profile of the case. They're drawing public attention to it. So it puts more pressure on them, self created pressure to do something to get her out. So it will hopefully succeed. And, you know, considering where things stand with U.S. Russian relations at the moment with all the sanctions over the war in Ukraine with talk about nuclear war, the fact that the two sides seem willing to talk and to negotiate at all is definitely a positive sign for Brittany griner as well. I had previously been very pessimistic about the ability of the U.S. government to do anything given the current political situation. But look, the result in the Reed case speaks for itself. He is now a free man a month ago. He was not. So I think that that's encouraging that they are getting behind this case in this way. Wanders, thanks for digging into this and breaking it all down for us. My pleasure tip. Coming up, what to watch for when Brittany griner team, the Phoenix mercury, and other teams around the WNBA, begin the season this weekend. We get support from whoop, the world's most powerful personalized digital fitness and health coach. 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If you want your music on demand and ad free, you have to try Amazon music unlimited, where you can listen to any song anywhere, offline with unlimited skips. For a limited time, new customers can try Amazon music unlimited free for 30 days. Just go to Amazon.com slash wondery. That's Amazon.com slash wondery to try Amazon music unlimited free for 30 days. Amazon.com slash wondery. Renews automatically cancel anytime. Terms apply. Sabrina merchant welcome to the lead. Thanks so much for having me. Thanks for being here. So Sabrina, we spent the first half of this episode discussing Brittany griner situation in Russia and the hope that she may return to the U.S. sooner than later. But now we wanted to shift our focus back onto the court. And the storylines to keep an eye on during the WNBA season, which is about to begin. So let's start with grinder's team. The Phoenix mercury. What is the forecast for this team without Brittany griner in the lineup? The thing with the mercury is there's so top heavy that the regular season is just perennially a slog for Phoenix because they invest so much of their cap into superstars that it's hard to have the depth to fill out for a full regular season. And I think we saw that last year too when they finished 5th and then made the run to the WNBA finals. So with or without grinder, I wouldn't expect this team to have a ton of regular season success. I'm a little concerned just defensively, you know, Britney's a huge force in the middle and deters a lot of shots. So as far as the mercury concerned, I think they're going to be like super high powered offensively. You know, any time you can combine scholarly and smith's tarazi and Dina Charles, that's a lot of scoring power, but I do worry a little bit about their defense. I think on the whole it's gonna be like a slightly average above average team during the regular season not to say that that can't change during the playoffs, obviously, but I wouldn't expect them to be lighting the doors on fire, you know, during the 36 games to start the era. This is Diana chassis's 18th season. And I mean, 18 seasons is insane to me. So what can we expect from her? I think we're going to see some load management from Diana tarazi, like I wouldn't expect her to play more than 28 games, you know, just to be conservative in terms of preparing for the playoffs and then also because this is a shorter regular season given the fact that the WWE has to finish in time for the World Cup, which is happening in September. So I don't think this is like an all WNBA season that we should be expecting from Diana Ross. I think she'll look really great sometimes and then some nights it'll look like she's in her 18th WBC's and then four years old and probably unable to summon it all the time. But I'm just excited to watch her play because when she's going, there's literally nobody in the link that's more fun to watch than to try. Definitely. Now you mentioned this a little bit before, but Phoenix just missed claiming their fourth WNBA championship last year losing to the Chicago sky in the finals. So let's now talk about last year's champion. The sky are led by hometown hero Candace Parker, and this is a team that seemed to come out of nowhere to win that title. So do they have what it takes to repeat? Well, nobody in the WNBA has repeated in 20 years. The last team to do it was the Los Angeles sparks in 2001 and 2002. And even though I think Chicago has probably the most talented team in the WNBA this year or at least among the top one or two most talented teams, it's just hard to bet on that repeats through ending just because there's so many factors that go into whether a team is going to be peaking at the right time and Chicago, like you mentioned, you know, they finished the regular season 16 and 16 last year and then just played their best.