Big news out of Atlanta this week, as the Dream signed head coach Tanisha Wright and general manager Dan Padover each to five-year extensions to continue with the team “through the 2027 season.” Interesting implication that they each were signed on for just one year originally, or interesting wording for an extension or exercising of options on what was already a multi-year deal that further stretches their current deals to 2027, perhaps with renegotiated compensation? Either way, it’s a splashy commitment to the duo from a franchise with a lot to look forward to in their revitalization era.
We may never know what their two original contracts with the Dream looked like, but direct indication of the term length of their new deals is a good direction for the Dream and one the league overall would be well-served to follow across the board for players, coaches, and executives alike. A “multi-year” deal is one thing; a contract extension “through the 2027 season” is concrete and provides opportunity for analysis both now and as their tenure plays out.
This WNBA offseason has been a busy one for front offices, seeing about a dozen hirings, firings, contract extensions, and related moves even ahead of player free agency. James Wade is a particularly interesting case and example of why team’s publicizing moves clearly is so paramount.
In January 2021 the Sky announced that Wade had signed a “four-year” contract extension that would keep him with the team “through the 2025 season.” Then in August they publicized a new contract extension that would keep him with the team “through the 2025 season.” If he was already signed through 2025, why would he sign an extension once again through 2025? Reporting from Annie Costabile at the Chicago Sun Times spells out that the original extension included team options for the final two years, which the team picked up, with the financials left unclear publicly.
While some teams have been decent historically – the Sun have included head coach contract lengths at several points over the years – the WNBA across the board has been notoriously bad at publicizing and clarifying all transactions – players, coaches, and executives alike. It’s why reporting like Costabile’s is so useful and a big reason why the Across the Timeline Transactions tracker exists: a consistent database of detailed moves linked to league press releases and reliable reporting provides a reference for real-time and historical analysis. And that’s why in progress now is the addition of coaching and front office transactions, too. Filter the Transactions tracker by “Coach” and “Executive” moves only and you’ll see a start to tracking head coach and general manager hirings, firings, and more. More to come, as always. (As always, if you have access to detailed transactional data and would like to collaborate, please feel free to reach out.)
It’s been a pretty incredible start for Utah. An historic one, even.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the candidates for their 2023 Class this past week. Finalists will be announced in February and the full Class announced during the Final Four. They even included one (1) woman in their tweets about it. :)
Of most immediate interest here are the “Women’s Nominations” and “Women’s Veterans” categories. (There are no categories named “Men’s“, as ever. Take it up with the Hall. Really. Complain to them. It’s absurd. And if you can bend their ear, mention to them how they should step up the number of women’s basketball candidates they let in. These eligible pools are going to get crowded with more and more stateside professional players and coaches becoming eligible.)
|Women’s Nominations||Women’s Veterans|
|Leta Andrews (Coach)||1976 US Olympic Team (Team)|
|Jennifer Azzi (Player)||1982 Cheyney University NCAA Final Four Team (Team)|
|Gary Blair (Coach)||Alline Banks Sprouse (Player)|
|Doug Bruno (Coach)||Edmonton Commercial Grads (Team)|
|Becky Hammon (Player)||John Head (Coach)|
|Becky Martin (Coach)||Yolanda Laney (Player)|
|Debbie Miller-Palmore (Player)||Nashville Business College (Team)|
|Kim Mulkey (Player)||Lometa Odom (Player)|
|Valerie Still (Player)||Harley Redin (Coach)|
|Marian Washington (Coach)||Hazel Walker (Player)|
|Valerie Walker (Player)|
|Dean Weese (Coach)|
It was 20 years ago this Friday that the Portland Fire dissolved, as Trailblazers ownership elected not to take over the franchise previously operated by the WNBA itself.
2002 was a tumultuous time in WNBA franchise ownership and operation. The NBA’s Charlotte Hornets were on their way out of the city (ultimately making their way to New Orleans), leaving question marks around the WNBA’s Sting. The young league’s 16 teams made it the largest it had ever (and still has ever) been. Add to that the winding down of the Players Association’s first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) (which would ultimately delay the start of the 2003 season) along with continued and very serious interest in bringing franchises to both San Antonio (alongside the NBA’s Spurs) and Connecticut (to take advantage of the University of Connecticut’s fan base), and anyone trying to keep track of the league could easily be overwhelmed.
So the league added even another wrinkle: restructuring of ownership. Instead of the NBA and its franchises running and handling day-to-day operations for the WNBA and its franchises, the board of governors opened up the possibility for independent ownership, teams detached from any NBA franchise, which led to a variety of changes between the 2002 and 2003 seasons:
Maybe it wasn’t that the Fire could never make money and more that there was immediate concern about the Trailblazers’ money. In 2003 the organization laid off nearly a third of their staff. The front office soon underwent executive-level changes: president and general manager Bob Whitsitt resigned (leading to a regime change), and Hubert herself took off just a few months later.
It was a tough loss for a well-backed Portland Fire squad. They had 2001 Rookie of the Year Jackie Stiles and attendance consistently over 8,000 per game and in the top half of the league. Those kind of numbers would be competitive with the likes of Minnesota and Los Angeles even pre-pandemic.
The Fire burnt out just as they broke even in their season standings and stood on the precipice of becoming a playoff team. Simultaneously, Stiles suffered a slew of injuries that kept her from ever returning to the WNBA. Perhaps the WNBA will find the Portland location suitable for a return in its upcoming expansion evaluations, with Stiles heavily involved, even?
In the meantime, check out NBC Sports Northwest’s mini-doc on the franchise to learn even more:
What happened to the Portland Fire?— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) June 23, 2020
Part 1 of the three-part mini documentary series on the @WNBA‘s Portland Fire is out NOW 🏀
Read more via @JamieHudsonNBCS ➡️https://t.co/fEDj19HvsH pic.twitter.com/iNbTSRmWhm
26 years ago this Thursday Kristeena Alexander led George Mason through the start of an improbable championship run in the Gooding’s Central Florida Holiday Tournament by making all 20 of her free throw attempts against the local University of Central Florida squad.
“I just went up there and kept shooting,” Alexander told reporters after the game.
At the time, 20-for-20 marked a Division I record for most free throws made in a perfect game from the line, besting Chris Starr‘s 18-18 from a 1984 game for Nevada (matched many times since).
Alexander went on to make six more free throws before missing late in the next night’s game against No. 12 Auburn. She redeemed the miss by sending the game to overtime on a late running jumper and making three more free throws in overtime to seal the 58-55 win for George Mason.
Alexander’s single-game free throw record was later broken by Jacksonville State’s Shanika Freeman, who finished a perfect 22-22 on February 6, 2003, and then 11 years later when Kelsey Minato finished 26-26 from the line in a February 12, 2014, game for Army.