Mystics to bring back Kristi Toliver, re-sign Shatori Walker-Kimbrough; two members of 2019 team
Like how Kitty and Red Forman return for a revival of “That ’70s Show,” Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough are two returning cast members from Mystics Championship-winning 2019 season.
Toliver will return to DC after spending the last three years in Los Angeles and Walker-Kimbrough has re-signed a two-year contract, which would have been guaranteed.
The gang is (almost) reunited. These two join Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen who all led Washington to their only title four seasons ago.
This brings the total number of players for the 2019 squad to six this year and it could be seven if Tianna Hawkins returns on a training camp deal. Last year, they had six members of this team. In 2021, there were no more than five at any given time. In 2020, there were only five returners who played.
Could the comic book reunion possibly tip the scales in Washington’s favor? It will definitely bring back the nostalgia of this team.
Toliver’s quest in the nation’s capital comes after his return to the Sparks didn’t go as planned. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic caused her to skip the season and her play wasn’t quite the same the following two years. There was drama behind the scenes in Los Angeles with a coaching change and a failed Liz Cambage experiment, as well as an eye and calf injury that all led to some of the worst seasons of a career. by Toliver.
Still, she brings a veteran presence to a relatively young team now that Alysha Clark is no longer on the roster. At 36, Toliver is currently the oldest player under contract. She is also the only player on the list to have won multiple WNBA titles.
Kristi Toliver’s Instagram post announcing her return to the Mystics
Washington hopes the guard can return to its 2019 form when it was an All-Star, averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 assists and shooting 36.0 percent on three. She and Cloud piloted a dynamic backcourt, taking turns as the true point guard, guiding the Mystics to arguably the best offense in WNBA history.
Even if she doesn’t go back to that level of play, Toliver will be a notable contributor off the bench who can execute an attack and hit three effectively.
Toliver is currently an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, she will report to DC once Dallas’ NBA season is over. It will also give Mystics some flexibility in the roster and cap until she officially signs.
Walker-Kimbrough returns after being with the team for the past year and a half. His reported guaranteed contract will be the first of his six-year professional career. The 2021 deal was signed mid-season on a prorated deal and last season was on a minimum deal.
The team pushed Walker-Kimbrough in the league’s annual Sixth Player of the Year award a year ago when she had the sixth-most minutes on the team. She played in 35 of 36 games, making three starts. She’s averaging 6.0 points throughout her career, shooting 42.3% from the field and 34.5% from deep. His 34.7% 3-point rating in 2022 was fourth-best among Mystics regulars.
As teams — notably the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces — accumulate talent and develop super teams, Washington is returning to the familiar. But if that 2019 success can be replicated, it doesn’t matter who is in opposition.
Oh, and as a reminder, Emma Meesseman is still an unsigned free agent (although the Mystics are running out of space for guaranteed contracts). I heard that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were also doing cameos on “That ’90s Show”.