WNBA Coaching Carousel: Get Caught Up on the Head Coaching Changes This Offseason

Even before the draft, free agency, or any trades, this WNBA offseason has already been filled with plenty of moves.

Coming out of the 2022 campaign, we knew of a few head coaching vacancies that were needing to be filled, but there have been some surprising moves this offseason that have thrown a curveball into the league’s head-coaching landscape. 

A few teams saw fresh faces take over to lead things on the sidelines, while a few familiar coaches have either returned to their teams from last year or jumped from one team to another. 

Let’s get you caught up on all the head coaching news from the offseason thus far. 

 

Los Angeles Sparks 

One of the early surprises of the offseason took place in October when the Sparks announced they hired Curt Miller away from the Connecticut Sun to become the next head coach in Los Angeles. Miller takes over the Sparks after the organization fired Derek Fisher during the 2022 season, resulting in the search for a new head coach. 

 

 

Miller comes to Los Angeles after turning the Sun into annual title contenders while leading the organization for the last seven seasons as head coach and general manager. During the 2022 season, Miller helped Connecticut to a regular season record of 25-11 and a trip to the WNBA Finals, which ended with the Las Vegas Aces coming away with the title in four games. In seven seasons, Miller guided the Sun to six playoff appearances while winning Coach of the Year twice (2017 and 2021) and Executive of the Year once (2017).

“After conducting a thorough search, we are confident that Curt is the right person to lead the next era of Sparks basketball,” Sparks Managing Partner Eric Holoman said in a statement from the team. “Curt brings extensive experience as a WNBA head coach, where he has won at a historic pace and helped develop several All-WNBA and MVP-level players.”

Miller has enjoyed a successful coaching career in both the WNBA and at the collegiate level. He now returns to the Sparks, where he served as an assistant coach in 2015 under then head coach Brian Agler. Before jumping into the WNBA, Miller was head coach at Bowling Green State University and Indiana University. Additionally, he served as an assistant coach at Colorado State University, Syracuse University, and Cleveland State University before becoming a head coach. 

 

 

With plenty of cap space available this offseason, Miller and the Sparks will likely try to be aggressive in bringing talent to Los Angeles to begin a new era of Sparks basketball. If Los Angeles is able to bring in a few top players, we could see Miller help the Sparks get out of the bottom of the WNBA standings and return to the playoffs in 2023.

 

Indiana Fever 

On Nov. 4, the Fever announced the hiring of Christie Sides to take over as their new head coach. Sides now takes over as a permanent leader of the Fever following Marianne Stanley’s departure in 2022 that resulted in Carlos Knox finishing the season with the interim title.

 

 

Sides becomes the ninth head coach in Indiana’s history, and she brings with her the extensive coaching experience that she has gained at both the collegiate and professional levels over the last 20 years. Most recently, Sides served as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Dream in 2022 under head coach Tanisha Wright and was also an associate head coach of the University of Louisiana-Monroe women’s basketball team, a role she held since 2019. 

Sides was on the Fever assistant coaching staff under Pokey Chatman during the 2018 and 2019 WNBA seasons, and she also made coaching stops with the Chicago Sky, Louisiana State University, Spartak Moscow Region, and the Slovakian Women’s National Team as an assistant coach as well as Northwestern University as both an assistant and associate head coach.  

“Christie has all the traits I value. She is an excellent teacher with a high basketball IQ,” Fever Interim General Manager Lin Dunn said in a statement from the team. “Christie will be demanding, pay attention to detail, and will also make sure we defend and play hard. I love her energy and believe she is a perfect fit for our young, talented team.”

 

 

A first-time head coach, Sides will now try to turn around an Indiana franchise that has been stuck near the bottom of the WNBA. The Fever, who last reached the postseason in 2016 and hold the longest active playoff drought in the league, will once again have a top pick in the upcoming WNBA draft as the rebuild continues with Sides now at the helm.

 

Dallas Wings

Shortly after the Fever made their head coaching announcement, the Wings followed suit when they announced on Nov. 7 that they hired Latricia Trammell as head coach of the franchise. Trammell takes over for Vickie Johnson, who spent two years as head coach in Dallas before the sides parted ways following the 2022 campaign. 

 

 

Trammell, a well-respected coach throughout the league, carries a 25-year résumé of experience at the professional, collegiate, and high school levels. She most recently served as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Sparks for four seasons, helping the Sparks establish a solid defensive performance throughout her tenure.

“Coach Trammell has proven to be a winner at every level of basketball she has coached, including the WNBA,” Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb said in a statement from the team. “I’m excited to watch Latricia lead our talented roster as we continue our on-court growth in pursuit of a WNBA Championship.”

Before her stint with the Sparks, Trammell was head coach of Oklahoma City University’s women’s basketball program after leading Western State University for five years prior. She has also spent time coaching at the high school level in both Texas and Oklahoma. 

 

 

Trammell takes over an up-and-coming Dallas squad that had a solid 2022 season. The Wings finished the season with an 18-18 record which secured them the sixth seed in the playoffs. Under Trammell’s leadership, the Wings could pair their talented offense with Trammell’s defensive expertise to continue to rise in 2023. 

 

Minnesota Lynx 

Although it wasn’t all that surprising, the Lynx announced on Nov. 3 that they re-signed and extended the contract of head coach Cheryl Reeve. The organization also announced that Reeve would be transitioning away from her role as general manager and into the president of basketball operations position within the organization. 

 

 

Reeve wasn’t necessarily expected to leave Minnesota if the organization elected to retain her, but she was heading into the new year with questions surrounding her contract situation and status with the team moving forward. But the Lynx reassured us all that Reeve won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

“Cheryl’s impactful leadership on and off the court has guided the Lynx for more than a decade, and I’m thrilled that she is returning and additionally taking on new responsibilities as President of Basketball Operations,” Lynx owner Glen Taylor remarked in a statement from the team. “Cheryl’s devotion to growing the game and our league is extraordinary, and we have some exciting seasons ahead of us.”

 

 

Since joining the Lynx in 2010, Reeve has compiled 281 victories, 11 playoff appearances, and four WNBA titles. Reeve has been named Coach of the Year three times, and she won Executive of the Year in 2019 while she was in the dual role of head coach and general manager. Reeve will also remain as head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, a position she was appointed to in 2021.

“Minnesota has been a great home to me and my family, and I simply love being a part of the Twin Cities community,” Reeve said in a statement from the team. “The Lynx fanbase is the best in all of the WNBA, and I look forward to building on the successes we have had as an organization.”

Reeve will continue to lead a Lynx team that now transitions away from the leadership of Sylvia Fowles and to that of Napheesa Collier, who will return to full strength in 2023 after giving birth in 2022 and missing nearly all of the season. With a top pick in the upcoming WNBA draft and a decent amount of cap space available, Minnesota will look to add some top-tier talent to pair alongside Collier and company in hopes of returning to the postseason and title contention in 2023 and beyond. 

 

Connecticut Sun 

Following the departure of Curt Miller to Los Angeles, the Sun unexpectedly found themselves joining in the search for a new voice to take over as head coach this offseason. In early November, ESPN first reported that Stephanie White would become that new leader, and her hire was later officially announced on Nov. 21. 

 

 

White joins Connecticut with plenty of coaching experience under her belt, previously serving as a head coach and an assistant coach at both the professional and collegiate levels. Most recently, White served as head coach of Vanderbilt University’s women’s basketball program until 2021. Before her tenure at Vanderbilt, she spent time as an assistant coach with the Chicago Sky and later as an assistant and head coach with the Indiana Fever. As a head coach in the WNBA, White compiled a two-year record of 37-31 with the Fever from 2015 to 2016, helping Indiana to an appearance in the WNBA Finals in 2015. Prior to that, White was an assistant coach at the University of Toledo, Kansas State University, and Ball State University. 

“Stephanie White is the right coach at the right time for our organization. She’s a proven winner that understands the high expectations we have within the Connecticut Sun organization and our fan base,” Sun President Jen Rizzotti commented in a statement from the team. “She has been a part of championships as both a player and a coach, and that is the mentality I was looking to add. I’m excited for our players who will be under her guidance, and I look forward to supporting and welcoming her back to the WNBA.”

White, who was a candidate and finalist for other head coaching vacancies in the WNBA over the last few seasons, jumps into things in Connecticut to take over a talented team that has annually made deep runs in the postseason. With her experience, White’s addition to the Sun could make for a nice transition after the unexpected departure of Miller to the Sparks. 

 

Washington Mystics

Continuing the coaching changes and news, Washington joined in on Nov. 15 when it announced that legendary head coach Mike Thibault was retiring from coaching and transitioning into holding the sole responsibility of general manager for the Mystics moving forward. Subsequently, Washington announced that Mike Thibault’s son, Eric Thibault, would take over as head coach of the Mystics.

“After 55 years in coaching (the last 20 in the WNBA), I feel like it is time to turn this team over to Eric and his coaching staff on the court,” Mike Thibault said in a statement from the team. “He is ready and prepared for it. I am looking forward to my continued role as GM, working together with the incredible energy that [Assistant General Manager/Senior Vice President] Maria [Giovannetti], Eric, and the rest of the staff bring in order to continue our pursuit of another WNBA Championship.”

Eric Thibault takes over for his dad on the sidelines in the nation’s capital after spending the last 10 seasons as an assistant coach in Washington, four of which have been with the title of associate head coach. One of the primary responsibilities for Eric Thibault over the last decade has been player development, mainly with Mystics guards. Prior to his time in Washington, Eric Thibault served as an assistant with the Connecticut Sun and for Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Eric is a young talent that we have seen develop the last 10 years. In the last four years, he has assumed more responsibilities and has been an instrumental voice in the success of our team,” Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder and CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement from the team. “From winning the championship in 2019 to helping us navigate the last two years of a pandemic, Eric knows our roster, and we are looking forward to his success as our next coach.”

Eric Thibault is now tasked with filling the big shoes left behind by his dad by leading a team that aims to build off a 2022 season that resulted in the Mystics finishing with the fourth-best record in the WNBA. 

 

With the WNBA draft, free agency, and other player movement still on the horizon before the 2023 campaign begins, the WNBA offseason is only beginning. But there has already been plenty of change throughout the league, mainly with the faces who will be leading teams into the new year. We will have to wait to see how these leadership decisions impact these teams, their play on the court, and the overall landscape of the WNBA next season. 

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