The New York Liberty have hired Walt Hopkins as their new head coach to fill the vacancy left by Katie Smith, whose contract expired and was not renewed. The announcement was made at a press conference that was live-streamed on Facebook on Wednesday.
Hopkins was an assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx from 2017 to 2019. He was also the director of basketball operations and player development for the Tulsa Shock prior to coaching in Minnesota.
The presser took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, where the Liberty will play their home games in 2020. Barclays will be a significant upgrade over the Westchester County Center they called home in 2018 and 2019. Hopkins mentioned having family ties to the Brooklyn area, including the fact that his father was born there.
Hopkins thanked Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx, adding that it was “bittersweet” to leave, but that he is excited to be in New York.
The Liberty went 10-24 last year, and have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. They are expected to take Sabrina Ionescu, currently a senior guard for the Oregon Ducks. As far as current players, Hopkins is hoping for the team — star Tina Charles, in particular — to take more 3-pointers and avoid long twos based on analytics that show which offenses in the league are most successful.
The decision to hand the reins over to Hopkins comes from Joe Tsai, who took over as the Liberty’s owner in January 2019.