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Kristi Toliver is making $10,000 as an NBA assistant coach. The WNBA’s salary cap needs to go

We have that and more in Wednesday’s NBA newsletter.

WNBA: Finals-Seattle Storm at Washington Mystics Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Howard Megdal broke a wild story in the New York Times: Kristi Toliver, a WNBA All-Star who joined the Wizards as an assistant coach this season, is being paid only $10,000 for her role with the NBA team due to salary cap rules preventing a higher salary.

Toliver plays for the Mystics, who are owned by the same entity as the Wizards. So WNBA salary cap rules limit what that company can pay Toliver in the offseason to prevent cap circumvention. Megdal reveals that the Mystics are limited to $50,000 in offseason supplemental pay for all of their players — Elena Delle Donne makes a bunch of it for marketing the Mystics, so Toliver could receive just $10,000 to a do a job that gets men hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes upwards of a million).

The WNBA pay scale is broken. Perhaps the WNBA should not have a pay scale. What would be the big problem with the WNBA joining most European professional leagues and getting rid of the salary cap? Or even if that’s not possible, what about losing individual player maximums? That would put a premium on smart team-building and prevent situations like this or like Breanna Stewart becoming the best player in the world before our eyes on a relatively paltry salary.

Toliver finding success as an NBA coach should be a positive storyline for the WNBA. Now it’s just another example of what’s wrong.


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