- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2020

When the Washington Mystics begin their WNBA title defense in 2020, they’ll be without one of their key starters from their first championship-winning team.

Guard Kristi Toliver signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Sparks on the first day of free agency.

Toliver, 33, was a starting guard for the Mystics for the past three seasons. Before that, she spent 2010 to 2016 with the Sparks. She averaged 13.0 points and a career-high 5.9 assists per game in 2019.

The move comes as a surprise for a number of reasons: Toliver is from Virginia and played college basketball at Maryland, she appeared to have a good relationship with Elena Delle Donne and other teammates and, perhaps most of all, she served as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. Both the Mystics and Wizards are owned by Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

Nonetheless, “a combination of factors led to Toliver seeking out a return to her old stomping grounds on the first day of free agency,” High Post Hoops reported earlier Monday.



The Mystics will be forced to adapt without Toliver on the roster, either by promoting 2019 first-round draft pick Kiara Leslie to a starting role (after missing her entire rookie season due to injury) or by signing someone new in free agency.

However, Toliver will still be in the building when the Mystics raise their first WNBA championship banner at their season opener May 16. The Mystics will host the Sparks that night.

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