Mercury hire former WNBA player and NBA assistant Kristi Toliver as associate head coach


PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Mercury made a significant coaching addition by appointing Kristi Toliver, a three-time WNBA All-Star and former NBA assistant, to the position of associate head coach.

Toliver will be joining the coaching staff led by first-year head coach Nate Tibbetts, and the announcement of her hiring was made on Friday.

Having played 14 seasons in the WNBA with stints in Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Toliver boasts an impressive career, including securing two WNBA championship titles. Her on-court contributions were notable, with an average of 11.8 points and 3.4 assists per game. Unfortunately, her last season with the Mystics was cut short due to a season-ending torn ACL after 11 games.

Toliver’s coaching journey is equally remarkable, as she made history by becoming the first active WNBA player to transition into an NBA assistant coaching role. Her coaching experience includes four seasons in the NBA, with two each on the coaching staffs of Scott Brooks in Washington and Jason Kidd in Dallas.

The hiring of Nate Tibbetts by the Mercury in October came after a challenging season where Phoenix finished with the WNBA’s worst record at 9-31. Following Vanessa Nygaard’s dismissal in late June, assistant coach Nikki Blue was promoted to head coach for the remainder of the season. The Mercury, anchored by a formidable veteran core featuring players like Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, are now poised to benefit from Toliver’s extensive expertise and coaching acumen.

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