On Wednesday, the Sparks held media availability for their new chief administrative officer and general manager Karen Bryant and head coach Curt Miller so that the pair could discuss their new roles and upcoming free agency. They talked for nearly an hour, and there were key takeaways from the conversation.
In the WNBA, the general manager and head coaching positions are often one in the same. That was the previous arrangement L.A. had with Derek Fisher, but it’s clear they’re going in a different direction. Curt Miller talked about how the GM role has become more complicated after the most recent CBA. “I think we’re down to James (James Wade of the Chicago Sky), maybe only as the dual hat GM/head coach left. So you really see the trend starting that the GM role is much more complex much more difficult than it once was and it is a full-time job.”
While the jobs are split into two, it’s clear that they are still collaborating and working together. “There was a bond that was built,” Bryant said. “Curt mentioned this, but we really very quickly realized that there was a lot of alignment and, I think, a really unique partnership in terms of how we were gonna work together.”
The united front they showed today is a good sign, even if it’s an early one. The two were hired during the same offseason, are working together, shared this press conference and will likely share the same fate in L.A., good or bad.
One good aspect, at least from Miller’s perspective, is the Sparks’ brand. He discussed on multiple occasions the weight the name carries in the WNBA.
“My first year in the league was such a special experience in L.A. that I thought if the opportunity to ever return presented itself, it would be too good to pass up. It was a dream opportunity, an iconic franchise, a place that I recognized is a destination location for players.”
The Sparks are arguably at their lowest point in franchise history. They have had back-to-back losing seasons and have missed the playoffs on both occasions. That hasn’t happened since 97-98, which were the first two seasons in the franchise’s history. It’s good to know that despite that, given their location in Southern California and their reputation of hanging championship banners, top coaches like Curt Miller still look at L.A. as a destination location. Miller will undoubtedly be hoping players think the same come free agency, which begins later in the month.
Press conferences can’t be won, but they can be lost. Saying the wrong thing and having a bad attitude or a mentality that goes against what the people want to hear is an easy way to get off on the wrong foot. On Wednesday, Bryant and Miller did a good job of expressing their vision and ushering in a new era of Sparks basketball. Now the real work begins. Teams can begin conversations with players on Jan. 15 and finalize deals on February 1. This will be the first test of this new regime. We’ll know more about the kind of players they value and how well they can attract talent to L.A. later this month. Undoubtedly, retaining the Ogwumike sisters will be priority No. 1 as both are unrestricted free agents this offseason.