After a 2012 season full of inconsistency, the New York Liberty have announced that Bill Laimbeer will be replacing John Whisenant as general manager and head coach.
"We're excited to have Bill Laimbeer join the New York Liberty as our general manager and head coach. He has brought his winning pedigree and passion to the WNBA and I believe he will play a large role in bringing a championship to the Liberty," said Allan Houston, the New York Knicks' assistant GM, who also oversees Liberty basketball operations. "We appreciate Coach Whisenant's dedication to our team and the organization, and wish him well in the future."
"I am very excited to return to the WNBA, and for the opportunity to join the New York Liberty," Laimbeer said. "I missed the competitive fire of players like Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, two hard-nosed competitors for the Liberty. The commitment of our fans and the City will be invaluable in our quest to bring a WNBA championship to New York. After all, that's really all that counts."
Although this probably comes as a surprise to many WNBA fans, Mel Greenberg had previously mentioned Laimbeer as a possible candidate for the Washington Mystics vacancy. Since leaving the Detroit Shock in 2009, Laimbeer had been working as an assistant coach with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves presumably in pursuit of a NBA head coaching post before they made a coaching change. SB Nation's Detroit Bad Boys detailed Laimbeer's qualifications for the Detroit Pistons' coaching vacancy this past summer - including a summary of his WNBA career - but he wasn't considered a top candidate. Most recently, Laimbeer had been doing NBA analysis for NBA TV.
Although Whisenant guided the Liberty to consecutive playoff berths, they were 15-19 in 2012 and had a negative differential in each of the Four Factors, as described by Ray Floriani at the end of the regular season. In plain terms, the Liberty weren't a particularly good team offensively or defensively this past year, finishing 9th in defensive and offensive efficiency. However, with the fifth pick in what is considered a deep 2013 WNBA Draft and All-WNBA guard Cappie Pondexter on the roster, Laimbeer certainly has something to work with in New York.