(WXYZ) — Over the weekend former Detroit Piston Dennis Rodman revealed his plans to visit Russia in hopes of freeing WNBA star Brittney Griner.
The U.S government is also trying to negotiate a prisoner swap for Griner and tied into her swap is Novi-native Paul Whelan who has been locked up in Russia for three years.
They say they would release Viktor Bout, a convicted arms dealer, for Griner and Whelan.
"We're cautiously optimistic. It's what we had hoped the U.S. government was working on," Paul Whelan's brother David said.
But could Rodman’s trip tarnish the deal?
Rodman says he has received permission to help secure Griner’s freedom, but the blessing does not seem to be coming from the Biden administration.
A senior official sent a statement saying "it is public information that the Administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts."
This wouldn’t be the first time Rodman has become an unofficial diplomat for the U.S.. He credits himself for the release of a U.S. prisoner in North Korea in 2014 after building a relationship with Dictator Kim Jong Un.