The Dallas Wings have fired coach Brian Agler, the team announced Wednesday.
Agler, who had one year left on his contract, came to the Wings in 2018 and led the team to an 8-14 mark this past season. Dallas finished one game out of making the playoffs with the youngest roster in the league.
“We appreciate Brian's contributions to the Dallas Wings over the last two years,” team president and CEO Greg Bibb said. “As we look to the future, we believe our team is talented and well-positioned for success. After discussing with Brian, we have elected to go in different directions. We are thankful for Brian's work, dedication to the community and his belief in our dynamic team. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
The 62-year-old coach won titles with Seattle and Los Angeles and is second on the league's wins list with 287.
Like many WNBA players, Agler tried to help further social justice causes while he was in the Florida bubble during this pandemic-altered season. He would constantly spotlight Black-owned businesses in the Dallas area during his pregame comments to the media and on social media.
Dallas has a strong young nucleus in place led by Arike Ogunbowale, who was the league’s leading scorer this past season at 22.8 points per game. The Wings also got strong contributions from rookie Satou Sabally, who averaged 13.9 points and 7.8 rebounds. She missed six games with a back issue and a concussion.
The Wings will begin a search for a new coach immediately. Bibb said in a call Wednesday night that finding a coach who is good at building relationships is important as is having a relatability to the players..
“At the end of the day we'll hire the candidate that's best qualified to lead our team,” Bibb said. “As far as relatability, the best way is to find a coach who has walked in the same shoes that the players have walked in.”
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in her state of the league address before the finals that there is a pipeline to find more minority candidates for coaching and front office positions. The league has four women head coaches — none of whom are Black. There are two Black men coaching in the WNBA, Los Angeles’ Derek Fisher and Chicago’s James Wade.
“I know, coupled with our brethren at the NBA, we have a whole initiative around this that will establish a pipeline of ready-now candidates to move into leadership positions,” Engelbert said. “If you look at my team behind me, it’s extremely diverse. And we need to work with the teams more on when there are openings, like a general manager or a head coach, that they’re looking at all candidates, including diverse candidates, in a very constructive way.”
Bibb said he didn't have a specific deadline to hire a coach but that the team would “move efficiently and quickly while at the same time we'll go about this in a thorough way and cast a wide enough net to talk to as many candidates as possible.”
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