July 1, 2023 

What’s next for Sky as James Wade steps down?

Chicago's top assistant Emre Vatansever appointed interim head coach and general manager

The Chicago Sky announced on Saturday that James Wade has stepped down from his role as the team’s general manager and head coach. He has accepted a position to be an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors. Chicago’s top assistant Emre Vatansever has been appointed the interim head coach and general manager.

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Wade, whose 58.4 winning percentage is the highest in franchise history, leaves the team after winning Coach of the Year in 2019, Executive of the Year in 2022 and helping guide the Sky to their first championship in 2021.

“We are thrilled that James can fulfill a lifelong dream to join the NBA, and we send him our warmest congratulations and best wishes,” Sky Principal Owner Michael Alter said in a statement. “We thank James for establishing a winning, team-oriented culture in Chicago and leading the Sky to our first ever WNBA Championship in 2021.”

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Wade signed a contract extension last season that would have kept him in the fold through the 2025 campaign. He had been with the team since 2018 and reset the culture for a franchise attempting to elevate its status across the league. He coached 161 games for the Sky which is the second-highest total for any coach in the organization’s history (Pokey Chatman is first with 223 games).

This past offseason, the Sky saw its cornerstones in Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Candace Parker leave the franchise. Wade and the front office opted to not go into a full rebuild and added veterans around three-time All-Star Kahleah Copper. Chicago, which now stands at 7-9, sent out the most first round picks in a trade in WNBA history in a transaction that netted the team Marina Mabrey.

This will be the second time in as many seasons Vatansever will have control of the Sky on the sidelines. After Wade contracted COVID-19 last year, Vatansever stepped up and led the team to two wins. He was recently the head coach for Cukurova Basketbol this past WNBA offseason.

Written by James Kay

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