With the WNBA offseason about to heat up with the calendar officially flipping over to 2020, the Minnesota Lynx are continuing to see a personnel switch among their assistant coaching staff.
On Tuesday, along with the league also announcing a new monumental and landmark eight-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Lynx announced they have made an addition to their assistant coaching staff under Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve.
The organization will add former Lynx great Katie Smith to its assistant staff prior to the start of the 2020 season, adding to what will likely be an all-female coaching staff in Minnesota this season under Reeve and alongside current assistant coach Plenette Pierson.
Smith, who recently was the head coach of the New York Liberty for the last two seasons before she was let go following the 2019 summer after compiling a two-year record of 17-51 in 68 games at the helm of the Liberty, will make a return back to an organization where she spent her first seven seasons in the WNBA as a player.
During her playing career in Minnesota from 1999 to 2005, Smith became on of the most successful players in Lynx history, still currently ranking third in franchise history in total points (3,605), second in points per game (17.6) and first in both free throws made (891) and free throws attempted (1,039).
Smith ended up playing a total of 14 years in the league on five teams, finishing her career with 7,885 points. She is also a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, joining that exclusive club in 2018.
Reeve and Smith have been close throughout the coaching careers of both individuals, which likely fed into Smith’s willingness to return to Minnesota to join the Lynx coaching staff. Reeve and Smith both won two league championships with the Detroit Shock in 2006 and 2008, when Reeve was an assistant coach under Bill Laimbeer and Smith was in the final stretch of her playing career.
Longtime Assistant Patterson Expected to Join Liberty
Along with the addition of Smith to the Lynx coaching staff, Minnesota is also expected to lose another one of its assistant coaches ahead of the 2020 season.
Assistant coach Shelley Patterson, who is the longest tenured assistant on the Lynx staff, will likely be heading to New York to join the Liberty in a similar role, as reported by Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune on Tuesday.
Patterson would join the staff of newly hired New York head coach Walt Hopkins, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant in Minnesota prior to being named the eighth head coach in Liberty history last week.
Patterson has been with the Lynx organization since the 2010 season, when Reeve was hired as head coach of Minnesota. Patterson and Reeve have managed to help lead one of the most successful decades in WNBA history, bringing home four league championships to Minnesota since 2010.
The departure of Patterson would leave Smith and Pierson as the two assistant coaches under Reeve with the Lynx. That could mean that Pierson could be elevated to a full-time assistant coach and the organization could look to add another assistant below, or Minnesota could look to add another person in a full-time spot to go alongside Smith.
Although often times we see a shift in player personnel within a team throughout the course of an offseason, that hasn’t been the case — yet — for the Lynx ahead of the 2020 season, as they are experiencing some changes within their assistant coaching staff while preparing for the start of the year this summer.