The Dallas Mavericks have made a number of changes off the court this summer, including firing longtime head coach Rick Carlisle and replacing him with Jason Kidd, who helped the team win its only championship in 2011. Now, as the new season approaches, Kidd is beginning to fill out his coaching staff.
One notable name who will be joining the Mavericks bench this season is Kristi Toliver. The WNBA star will be hired as an assistant coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Toliver, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks, has previously coached in the NBA with the Washington Wizards.
During Toliver's tenure with the Wizards, her contract situation became a national story and was the impetus for changing part of the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement. In the old CBA, fairness rules stated that WNBA teams could only pay players a certain amount of money for work during the offseason. Essentially the rules were in place to prevent wealthier owners from circumventing the salary cap.
A good idea in general, but the problem in her case was that since the Wizards had the same owner as the Washington Mystics -- who Toliver played for at the time -- the team was only allowed to pay her $10,000 for her assistant coaching duties. The "Toliver provision" was soon put in place to allow WNBA team affiliates to hire players at a fair market rate for coaching positions as long as they met certain requirements regarding experience and time spent with their current club.
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The fairness rules don't apply in this situation since the Mavericks and Sparks obviously do not have the same owners, but it's worth noting Toliver's role in blazing a trail for current WNBA players to move into NBA coaching positions.
Toliver and the Sparks have won two games in a row coming out of the Olympic break, and are trying to make a late-season push to keep their streak of nine straight postseason appearances alive. They currently sit in 10th place, at 8-13, but are only one game out of the final playoff spot.
If the Sparks fail to make the postseason, Toliver will be done playing on Sept. 19 and free to join the Mavericks at that point ahead of training camp. Should the Sparks get to the playoffs, then she would join the team whenever they were eliminated. Either way, she should be with the Mavericks before the start of the regular season.