New Sparks GM Karen Bryant is preparing for free agency

Greeted by outgoing Seattle Storm CEO and President Karen Bryant, Sue Bird honored Bryant on her final day before the WNBA basketball game between the Storm and the Indiana Fever Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Karen Bryant is honored on her closing day as CEO and President of the Seattle Storm on July 31, 2014 in Seattle. Bryant was launched because the Sparks’ new basic supervisor on Wednesday. (Eileen Thompson/The Related Press)

Karen Bryant He was purported to interview the candidates sparksplace of basic supervisor. Then it turned out to be the only option.

Earlier Seattle Storm The CEO transitioned from a behind-the-scenes contributor to Sparks’ rebuilding to a senior architect on Tuesday when the workforce introduced her appointment as basic supervisor and chief administrative officer. With the franchise mired in its worst two-year stretch, Bryant will lay the muse for a brand new Sparks period through the upcoming free company interval.

“This can be a essential yr for us,” Bryant mentioned at her inaugural press convention on Wednesday. Head coach Kurt Miller. “Kurt and I are right here to assist lead a change within the basketball side of the group and we now have a number of work to do.”

The Sparks, who’ve missed the playoffs in consecutive years, have solely two gamers on assured contracts subsequent yr together with six unrestricted free brokers. They’ve essentially the most accessible cowl area. They don’t have a 2023 first-round draft decide, which was traded in a deal that included acquisition Sineday Carter from Atlanta, who then despatched the decide to Washington.

Bryant has personally seen the worth of the WNBA’s prime draft picks. Throughout her 15-year tenure with the Seattle Storm, the workforce has constructed an excessive amount of its success on No. 1 picks Lauren Jackson and Sue Chook. After quitting in 2014, Storm received two extra championships because the #1 Jewell Lloyd (2015) and Breanna Stewart (2016) franchise with Baird, who retired in 2022.

Because the Storm’s inaugural COO earlier than transitioning to president and CEO for seven years, Bryant helped cement the franchise’s standing as a significant WNBA workforce with industrial successes such because the Storm’s first jersey partnership.

However she hasn’t held a place like this within the 25 years since she was named basic supervisor of the defunct NBA’s Seattle Reign in 1998.

Instances have modified drastically in ladies’s skilled basketball. Combining basic supervisor and head teaching duties — as Miller did for six years at Connecticut — is not potential for many groups, based on Miller, due to a collective bargaining settlement accredited in 2020 that has made wage cap selections tougher. Analytics, scouts and individuals are extra superior. Bryant jokes that know-how nonetheless scares her.

Bryant has admitted that she is “rusty” in evaluating gamers, rating wage cap necessities and making selections about roster constructing. She added that there was a “steep studying curve” forward.

When Sparks fired Derek Fisher final JuneOn the time, Bryant was merely helping within the workforce’s seek for a basic supervisor as a strategic advisor, a task she started in 2021. When the workforce started its teaching search in earnest after the season, Bryant started talking with Miller, who was then the coach of the Connecticut Solar. A shared imaginative and prescient emerged, and possession approached Bryant about taking over the function of basic supervisor themselves.

CEO and outgoing president of the Seattle Storm, Karen Bryant, smiles as she is being honored on her final day.

Karen Bryant is honored throughout her closing day as CEO and President of the Seattle Storm on July 31, 2014. (Eileen Thompson/The Related Press)

“Surprising for me and I feel in the end surprising for the group,” Bryant mentioned, “however I feel as we sit right here right now as companions, I feel we’re more than happy and assured that we will collaborate and lead this group ahead.”

New assistant basic supervisor Eli Horowitz, who spent most of his six-year tenure with the workforce working in communications, will be a part of Bryant and Miller. He’ll oversee participant personnel, scouting, wage cap administration and basketball analytics after serving final season as Senior Director of Communications and Basketball Analytics.

Her roster-building expertise is proscribed within the WNBA, however Bryant notes that she helped deliver coaches Ann Donovan and Brian Agler to Seattle. They every received one WNBA title for the franchise.

“She’s on prime of this, she understands this league and most significantly, she wins,” Miller mentioned. “And she or he is aware of methods to deliver profitable groups collectively.”

Miller started placing collectively his teaching workers on Wednesday, saying Chris Couklanis and Steve Smith as assistants and hiring Nola Henry as participant improvement coach. Kouklanis has overseen Connecticut’s protection below Miller for the previous two seasons. Smith beforehand labored in Los Angeles below Orlando Woolridge (1998), Michael Cooper (2008-2009), Gene Gillum (2010), and Benny Toler (2014), earlier than he and Miller labored for Agler’s Sparks in 2015. Miller introduced in Smith to Connecticut from 2016-18.

Miller mentioned he’s nonetheless “actively looking for” a 3rd assistant coach, which is permissible if groups rent former WNBA gamers.

Over the previous six months, the Sparks have fully rebuilt their enterprise and basketball operations with a brand new president, coach, and basic supervisor. With free company set to start in 4 weeks, a brand new slate is on the way in which. Pushing the franchise right into a reboot and rebuilding might be lengthy and at occasions irritating for impatient followers, however Bryant and Miller suppose it is value it.

“We’ll measure, and we will be disciplined in our method,” Bryant mentioned. “We is not going to take shortcuts and are on this for continued success.”

This story initially appeared Los Angeles Instances.

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