DALLAS - Two-time WNBA champion Kristi Toliver is joining coach Jason Kidd’s staff as a Dallas Mavericks assistant. ... in an unusual way.
Toliver is still under contract with the Los Angeles Sparks through the 2022 season, and the arrangement calls for her promising coaching career to not interfere with her stellar playing career.
“Thank you all for the love and support entering this new journey,” she wrote on Twitter. “So thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to get to work.”
Toliver has experienced a similar journey previously, as in 2018 she was on the Washington Wizards staff under coach Scott Brooks.
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Nevertheless, it is an avant-garde approach for Dallas, employing not only a female coach - former boss Rick Carlisle had Jenny Boucek on his Mavs staff for three years, and she joins him now in his new position with the Pacers - but one who isn't yet retired.
Toliver is in her 12th season as a player in the WNBA, and is a three-time WNBA All-Star. When she helped the Wizards, she was playing for the Washington Mystics. Logistically, playing in L.A. and coaching in Dallas will be a different sort of challenge, though Derek Fisher, her current head coach with the Sparks, endorses Toliver and the concept.
“She’s a student of basketball ... she really loves it,'' Fisher said. "For players in Dallas, they’ll be able to see it’s not just something she decided all of a sudden that she wanted to do. She’s been pretty clear about this for the last few years and I’m really happy for her that she’s going to have that opportunity.”