December 24, 2020
Derek Fisher set to take over in new role as general manager
In a call with media on Wednesday morning, Fisher made it clear that retaining the core is the team's top priority
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited, and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives, and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues, and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
The Los Angeles Sparks have been searching for a new general manager since they let go of Penny Toler shortly after the team’s 2019 playoff loss at the hands of the Connecticut Sun, and this week they finally announced their candidate in a reorganization of the team’s basketball operations staff.
Head coach Derek Fisher will serve as the Sparks’ new general manager in addition to his duties as head coach. He will join Curt Miller (Connecticut Sun), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx), Mike Thibault (Washington Mystics), and James Wade (Chicago Sky) holding dual roles as both head coach and general manager in the WNBA.
In addition to Fisher’s new role, assistant general manager Michael Fischer was named the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel while Managing Partner and Governor Eric Holoman will take over as Chief Executive Officer and Governor.
Fisher worked very closely alongside Fischer and Holoman in the 2019 offseason in regards to the draft and other roster moves. This offseason, he’ll have some big decisions to make when it comes to the roster as the core trio of Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, and Nneka Ogwumike are all free agents.
In a call with media on Wednesday morning, Fisher made it clear that retaining the core is the team’s top priority.
“It is vital that we find a way to make it work… It’s their choice, we won’t be able to force them to do anything. Our goal should be to be able to have the type of conversations and communication with them that will provide a level of clarity of what our vision is for their time here and how we see this being the best place for them,” Fisher said. “We got a bunch of other priorities as well to try and retain the consistency and the corporate knowledge that we feel to be important to compete for championships again over the next few years.”
As a former player himself, Fisher understands the importance of players feeling comfortable and satisfied within the team’s offense in terms of getting touches, and now in an executive role, it’s going to be his job to convince players that they will fit in the system he’s building as head coach.
In addition to the core three, the Sparks have several key contributors from last season in Seimone Augustus, Brittney Sykes, and Riquna Williams who will all hit the open market. Chiney Ogwumike, who opted out of the 2020 season, is also set to become a free agent.
Fisher believes that the team has shown that complementary players can thrive within his system as evidenced by the development of Kristine Anigwe, Te’a Cooper, and Sydney Wiese.
“We share the basketball, we play together, all five players on the court are going to have a chance to eat and be successful. That’s what we want, even for players that are coming off of the bench, for young players that have gotten the chance to find out more of who they are,” Fisher said. “When you come in the game, it’s a team game. Everybody should have the opportunity to be successful out there. We view that as strength, and as far as I know, our players really enjoy playing that way … You’re not going to have to stress over shots because you’re on a team with Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, and Chelsea Gray. The way we play basketball, everybody gets a chance to be successful.”
One additional aspect of the job that Fisher will have to focus on is the salary cap and how different players’ potential contracts fit under the new WNBA CBA. In conversations that Fisher has had with several players thus far, he’s come away believing that the ultimate factor in their decision making is going to be where they have the best chance to win.
“I think they realize that we have a really special opportunity to do that with this core group,” Fisher said. “We will find a way to make it work.”