Inside the Coaching Carousel

With less than a week until the 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm set to unveil, a flurry of coaching moves have taken place the past week in the wake of Curt Miller heading to Los Angeles.

The Fever find a coach.

Christie Sides was officially named head coach of the Indiana Fever on Friday afternoon, rejoining the franchise after a stint as an assistant from 2017-2019. She was an assistant on Tanisha Wright’s staff in Atlanta this past season and has been a long-time coach at the collegiate, professional, and international stages of play.

While I have yet to decide how the team will play, what systems she’ll bring in, and what her main points of emphasis will be, it stands to reason that defense will be at the forefront. Interim general manager, Lin Dunn, has repeatedly made a point during her availabilities to stress the importance of Indiana finding a defensive identity, something she elaborated on in the Fever’s official release.

“Christie has all the traits I value. She is an excellent teacher with a high basketball IQ. She is a relationship person and a connector. 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,” Interim general manager Lin Dunn said.

The Fever haven’t finished league average or higher in defensive efficiency since Tamika Catchings retired, so Sides has her work cut out for her, as does Dunn in building out the personnel.

As laid out previously, with a large amount of cap space, a potential number one overall pick in the coming draft, and a new staff in place, the Fever have a multitude of pathways that could unfold before them. There’s a reason for cautious optimism about the direction of the franchise, but this off-season is pivotal.

Reeve re-signs in Minnesota.

After some rumors and speculation on whether or not the Lynx head coach could potentially move on to take the opening with the Connecticut Sun, Cheryl Reeve signed a multi-year contract on Thursday, returning to the Lynx as head coach and elevated from general manager to president of basketball operations.

The Lynx have won four WNBA titles under Reeve (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017) and embarked into a new era this season after Sylvia Fowles’ retirement following a Hall of Fame career.

“I appreciate the confidence that Glen and Becky Taylor have shown in me through the years and are excited to have the opportunity to continue to lead the Lynx organization into the future,” said Reeve. “Minnesota has been a great home to my family and me, and I simply love being a part of the Twin Cities community. The Lynx fanbase is the best in the WNBA, and I look forward to building on our successes as an organization.”

2023 will be Reeve’s 14th season as head coach of the Lynx, and she’s coming off of coaching the United States National Team to the Gold Medal in the recent FIBA World Cup.

Latricia Trammell takes over in Dallas.

The Dallas Wings officially announced today that Los Angeles Sparks assistant, Latricia Trammell, will be named as the next coach of the Dallas Wings (Initially reported by The Next). She’s spent most of her coaching career at the collegiate level and started her W career working for the then-San Antonio Stars before heading to Los Angeles.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Dallas Wings, and I am honored and excited to lead this talented roster,” Trammell said. “I’d like to thank Greg Bibb and Bill Cameron for their belief in me. The investment by this ownership group in the success of the Wings, both on and off the court, is incredibly impressive. I believe my coaching experiences at every level have prepared me for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get to work on behalf of this team, these loyal fans, and the entire North Texas community.”

Multiple players, including Sparks’ guard Brittney Sykes, have credited Trammell with their growth on the defensive end of the floor.

While much of the roster is still under contract for the 2023 WNBA season, I expect some changes on the horizon. Izzy Harrison voiced frustration this season with her role and, as an unrestricted free agent, is an unlikely returner. It was reported at the trade deadline by Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV that Allisha Gray would “most likely” be moved in the off-season. Perhaps a coaching change and some time apart from the season has changed that.

Gray was Dallas’ best player for much of this past season; trading her due to a soured relationship would be a significant hit to immediate competitiveness and roster construction.

Teaira McCowan and Marina Mabrey were both essential parts of the Wings’ late-season run and turnaround to make the postseason, and both are restricted free agents this off-season.

What is the identity of the Dallas Wings? I think I asked myself that question every other game last season. Seven games in, I thought they had one. A few weeks later, they seemed lost and got away from what gave them a solid start. Then they finished the regular season out with an entirely different verve than we’d seen the entirety of the year. So much of that has to do with the actual roster. It seems backward to say that a team has too many playable players, but that was a legitimate problem for this team last season; a lot of talent but often a lack of cohesion and direction.

Finding that direction and sticking to it through this coaching hire and potentially a consolidation trade is what I’m most hoping to see come out of the 2023 season.

Franchise player Arike Ogunbowale missed much of the playoffs and the season’s final month due to injury. She had a bit of an up-and-down year, but July was one of her career’s best stretches of play process-wise. The blend of shot-making and playmaking felt right. She was putting forth really good defensive activity and attentiveness. She continually found multiple ways to make an impact.

How Dallas handles, this off-season will be fascinating to track, as they feel ripe to make a multitude of changes.

WNBA reporter Mark Schindler writes a column on throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter at @MG_Schindler. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.