Kristi Toliver leaving Mystics, will return to Sparks

Tyler Byrum
NBC Sports Washington

Former Mystics guard Kristi Toliver is heading back to her old team, signing with the Los Angeles Sparks, it was announced on Monday.

This move reunites Toliver with former WNBA MVPs Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike who remained with the team after Toliver's departure in 2016. Last season, the Sparks received the No. 3 seed in the playoffs before losing to the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Semifinals. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but High Post Hoops is reporting it as a three-year contract.


Toliver, 33, returns to Sparks after three seasons with the Mystics and fresh off of a championship. She joined the team before the 2017 season, right after WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne was traded to Washington. Eight of her previous nine seasons in the WNBA were with the Sparks. 

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She sent out thanks for her time in Washington in a lengthy post on Instagram, saying "the business of basketball is tough sometimes, but the game of basketball is the greatest gift because of all the relationships it has given me."

During her three seasons in DC, Toliver brought in a championship mentality to a franchise that had never sniffed a title in their history. It only took her two seasons to help lead the team to the WNBA Finals. In one more season, they won it all. 

All three seasons saw Toliver at the helm of the Mystics' offense as the point guard. Her durability and tenacity made her irreplaceable. During her short tenure in D.C., she only missed 11 games, 10 of which came last year due to a right knee injury.  

She was the only Mystic to have won a WNBA championship before the 2019 season. Toliver won the 2016 championship with Los Angeles. 


While already a team that again had championship aspirations for 2020, this move likely vaults the Sparks as the favorites to win it all this upcoming season. 

Washington, meanwhile, loses its top ballhandler. While injured, the Mystics primarily relied on Natasha Cloud to handle the point guard responsibilities. Washington will either need to look into the free agency pool to find a replacement or likely rely on the development of 2017 first-round draft pick Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

Toliver is also an assistant coach for the NBA's Washington Wizards. NBC Sports Washington has learned that the Wizards do not anticipate Toliver's move affecting her position with the team. 

The Mystics open up the season by hosting the Toliver-led Sparks on May 16.

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Kristi Toliver leaving Mystics, will return to Sparks originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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