Whenever a team relocates, finding an arena and building up a season ticket holder base is important. But the product on the floor is ultimately what everyone's paying for.
And with that in mind, who's going to coach the Bay Area WNBA team after relocation?
As you can probably tell, I haven't really talked about who would be the team's General Manager, which is a position that is combined with the Head Coach job with many WNBA teams, primarily for cost cutting purposes which I often find creates a conflict of interest.
In James' interview with Atlanta Dream Head Coach Michael Cooper last month, here's what he had to say about that issue:
I think the one problem you have with a coach trying to be a general manager is that a general manager’s job is to get the team set up, deal with contracts, negotiations with agents and stuff like that. You then get the ultimate problem with the player feeling that they’re worth X amounts of dollars and you’re telling them that they’re not, that they’re better suited for the financial amount you want to give them. Then, a month later, you’ve got to turn around as a coach and tell those players – the same players you’ve been negotiating with – "Hey, come on work hard for me!"
I couldn't say it any better myself.
In Day 3 of the watch, we also have pointed out that Jim Weyermann, the Golden State Warriors' Vice President of New Franchise Development was also the GM of the ABL's Seattle Reign. This is speculation from me, but if and when the Warriors ownership has a WNBA team, you would think that Weyermann may be a leading candidate to be the General Manager for that team, including a hypothetically relocated Sparks team. And even if he isn't, it's likely that the Warriors ownership will have a separate person in a General Manager role from whoever is the Head Coach, and it may be for the reasons that Coach Cooper said above.
With all that said, we made a list of head coaching candidates for the Sparks if they relocate to the Bay Area, regardless of how likely they are to accept a head coaching position. They are in three categories: the incumbent, WNBA assistant coachess, and other notable names. This is part one, so we're sticking with:
Carol Ross, Los Angeles Sparks
Previously, on Sparks Watch
Previously, on Sparks Watch
Why: Ross has led the Sparks to identical 24-10 records since taking the head coaching position in 2012. She was also the WNBA's Coach of the Year in 2012 after leading the Sparks to a nine win improvement over the year before. In terms of the postseason, the Sparks made the Western Conference Finals in 2012, but lost in the first round the next year.
Also, by keeping Ross, there still is continuity of the roster and other key figures with the relocation. Given that there isn't much time between now and the start of the 2014 season, it certainly doesn't hurt to keep a head coach who was leading a winning product on the floor last two seasons. So by keeping her with the team, there should be a lower chance of key players, including Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike demanding trades to other teams for various reasons like what we saw in Tulsa.
Why Not: Generally speaking, whenever there is an ownership change, there is a desire by the new ownership to put in "their guys" in place for front office positions. Ross is not a "Joe Lacob hire," she'd be a "Paula Madison holdover." And even if she's a winning coach, will she do whatever the new GM wants in terms of a team building strategy? If she doesn't, then she shouldn't be retained.
Will Ross stay?: I'm going to say that while there isn't a 100% guarantee that Ross will stay, I'm also going to say that she more likely than not will remain the head coach of the 2014 Sparks, or whatever name the team has after moving to the Bay Area. The main reasons why would be because she has been winning consistently with the team, and also because there just isn't much time between now and the start of next season.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about assistant coaches who may be good fits for this job if Lacob goes in another direction. But today, do you think Carol Ross is a good fit for the current Los Angeles Sparks team and what they want to do in the near future, which is to win a WNBA championship? Sound off in the comments below!