Former Chicago Bulls rebounder Dennis Rodman announced on Saturday that he will travel to Russia to seek the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month on drug charges.

Rodman told NBC News in a D.C. restaurant, "I received clearance to travel to Russia to help that girl...  I hope to travel this week."

According to a senior Biden administration official, he is more likely to harm than help.

"It is public knowledge that the administration has made a substantial offer to the Russians, and anything else than continued negotiations through the established route is likely to complicate and hamper release efforts," said the official.

If Rodman travels to Russia, it will not be the first time he has performed informal diplomacy with a foreign leader with whom the United States has frosty relations.

Over the past few years, Rodman has established a friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by making repeated trips to the hermit nation.

After a trip to Moscow in 2014, he referred to the Russian president as "cool." In 2018, he attended the meeting between former President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore.

In reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the United States has implemented severe sanctions and is helping Ukrainian soldiers.

The detention of Griner has produced an additional source of stress between the two nations, as well as a potential diplomatic opportunity.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has been involved in previous hostage discussions, told The Associated Press this month that he was enthusiastic about the possibility of a prisoner swap that would return Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, to the United States.

Rodman, who was in Washington for a shoe conference, does not require special permission from the United States to enter Russia; just a visa from Moscow is required. However, the State Department has issued a travel advise discouraging Americans from visiting the nation.

The State Department warns against traveling to Russia for a variety of reasons, including the "unprovoked and unlawful invasion of Ukraine," the prospect of "harassment of U.S. persons by Russian government security officials," and the risk of "wrongful imprisonment."

Rodman claimed confidence in his knowledge of the Russian president, despite the fact that his relationship with Kim is far more established.

He stated, "I know Putin too well."