The former Storm coach and general manager accepted a similar position with the Los Angeles Sparks in January.
Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Brian Agler, the former Storm coach and general manager who in January accepted a similar position with the Los Angeles Sparks. Agler compiled a 132-102 record in Seattle (2008-14) and won the 2010 WNBA title. Agler returned to KeyArena on Saturday, the Storm defeating the Sparks, 86-61.
Question: The Storm has six players with three or fewer years of WNBA experience, including two draft picks. You didn’t want to be part of the rebuild?
Answer: I never wanted to leave, and I told our ownership that many times. I had another year on my contract, but I knew what they wanted to do, and I just felt like for everybody concerned, it was probably best that I just asked for the chance to talk to some other (teams).
Q: The Storm’s season ended at 12-22 in August. Los Angeles and New York were the only offseason coaching vacancies, when did you start talking to L.A.?
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A: It was sort of funny. I started talking to L.A. in November, and I got a call from New York after I accepted the L.A. job. I honestly think they were going to hire Isiah (Thomas) as the coach. They were talking to him about doing that and didn’t. My gut feeling is that’s why the (Bill) Laimbeer thing was put on hold.
Q: When Laimbeer was fired in October and re-hired Jan. 8?
A: Nobody told me that, but that’s my gut feeling. I talked to (senior vice president) Kristin Bernert on the phone. I told her my taking the L.A. job was going to be announced the next day (Jan. 5).
Q: Do you think if nothing worked out elsewhere you would have been fired? You’re not known for keeping or playing inexperienced players.
A: No, absolutely not. I have a ton of respect and admiration for the organization. (Storm co-owner) Lisa Brummel and I talked the whole time, and (first-year Storm coach) Jenny (Boucek) was kept in the loop of what was going on as well. It was casual conversations throughout. And they asked me right after the season was over to put a three-year plan in place to rebuild. We talked about how we would put this together. … They put a really good team together. Obviously with Jewell (Loyd) coming out early, it worked out perfectly for the Storm.
Q: You and general manager Penny Toler made tweaks to the Sparks’ roster. How have you managed Candace Parker being out indefinitely and Kristi Toliver arriving late due to international competition?
A: It was a process. There are a lot of moving pieces even right now. Penny has always done a great job acquiring talent, whether through the draft or free agency. Candace hasn’t been around. I talked with her in May, and she’s talked about July as coming back. But, I focus on the people that are here, and I’ve been through it before with Lauren (Jackson). There’s nothing you can do, so why worry about it?
Q: Seattle opened against Los Angeles last year; did another season opener at KeyArena feel different?
A: The energy in KeyArena — if I sat here by myself for an hour, I could probably remember every game-winning shot Sue Bird hit or every big win we had here. All of those special moments. You can’t dwell on the past. The big part about going to L.A. is to create a culture and be accountable for how you play. We have to develop that toughness you have to have to excel at a high level in this league.
Jayda Evans’ WNBA power rankings
|1.||Minnesota||Plays at Phoenix at noon Sunday, part of ESPN2 doubleheader|
|2.||Tulsa||Ex-college teammates Skylar Diggins, Jewell Loyd to face off Tuesday|
|3.||Chicago||Elena Delle Donne scored 40 points in a loss Saturday|
|4.||Washington||Mystics 2-0 for first time since 2010|
|5.||New York||Rookie Brittany Boyd had four three-pointers in win Friday|
|6.||Atlanta||Angel McCoughtry called for two technicals in as many games|
|7.||Phoenix||Team slogan “Defending Glory” has new meaning with Griner’s marital woes|
|8.||Seattle||Begins three-game trip at Tulsa on Tuesday at 5 p.m.; Minnesota and L.A. next|
|9.||Los Angeles||Coach Brian Agler’s defense will take a while for players to master|
|10.||San Antonio||Guard Jia Perkins opened 12th season with 20 points in loss|
|11.||Connecticut||All-Star Chiney Ogwumike out for season due to knee injury|
|12.||Indiana||Hosts Chicago at 10 a.m. as part of ESPN2’s season broadcast debut|