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Kristi Toliver joins Phoenix Mercury as associate head coach

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Kristi Toliver played for the Washington Mystics in 2023 but tore her ACL in September. (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kristi Toliver is joining the WNBA coaching ranks for the 2024 season as associate head coach for the Phoenix Mercury.

A two-time WNBA champion and three-time All-Star, Toliver played for the Washington Mystics in the 2023 but tore her ACL in September. She has not formally announced her retirement, though her move to the Mercury bench would seem to signal a career transition.

Toliver, 36, brings ample WNBA experience to her new role as an assistant to Mercury head coach Nate Tibbetts, who came to the team with no women’s basketball experience. Tibbetts was hired in October to succeed interim head coach Nikki Blue, who took the helm after Phoenix fired head coach Vanessa Nygaard in June.

In Toliver’s 14 seasons in the WNBA, she played for the Mystics, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky. She won titles with the Mystics in 2019 and with the Sparks in 2016, and she was named the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2012.

Toliver also brings coaching experience, as she spent four seasons as an NBA assistant coach. She became the first active WNBA player to do so in 2018, when she joined Scott Brooks’ staff with the Washington Wizards. And then she spent two seasons on Jason Kidd’s staff with the Dallas Mavericks.

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Kristi Toliver spent two years as an assistant coach for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)