May 25, 2022
Indiana Fever fire head coach Marianne Stanley and promote Carlos Knox on interim basis
The Indiana Fever made a mid-season coaching change on Wednesday moving on from Marianne Stanley and promoting Carlos Knox
The Indiana Fever caught many by surprise on Wednesday and fired head coach Marianne Stanley during her third season at the helm of the Fever roster.
Stanley coached three dramatically different Fever teams to a combined 14-49 record in her trio of seasons as the head coach of the franchise. She was in the final season of her contract, but interim general manager Lin Dunn decided that now was the right time to make a coaching change.
“With this new group of players, it is time for our organization to go in a different direction,” Dunn said in a team-issued statement. Dunn took over the Fever front office in February. “This was a difficult decision and we wish Marianne the very best in the future.”
The Indiana Fever are filling their head coach opening with assistant coach Carlos Knox, who the team initially hired in December. Knox has been in various coaching roles for the last two decades and has spent time in Indianapolis helping numerous professionals improve their basketball skills. He has longstanding ties to the city and the Fever franchise.
One of those ties to the Fever spanned from 2014-16 when Knox was an assistant coach for the franchise. Dunn was the head coach of the Fever in 2014 when the team initially hired Knox for the first time.
“Carlos’ experience is what makes him so valuable,” former Fever general manager Tamika Catchings said of Knox in December of 2021. Catchings lauded Knox’s ability to develop players, which will have a ton of value for the Fever’s current roster, which ranks as the second-youngest in the league.
Stanley’s record as the coach of the Fever was underwhelming. And the team never grew or improved in the way many hoped when she took over for Pokey Chatman in 2019. While a strong, family-style culture has existed within the Fever roster, the results haven’t been there and the player development hasn’t happened as much as the franchise anticipated. That’s part of why Knox was brought on in the first place.
It should be noted that Stanley was hired on the same day that Catchings was promoted to general manager. Dunn was not in charge of the front office during that coaching change, so the Fever’s new decision-maker may have wanted to hire a head coach that better fits her vision.
This season, Indiana is 2-7 with a roster that features numerous rookies. While that is a lackluster record, it does fall short of detailing how much better the team looks this season than they did in 2021. Their net rating has improved by three full points and they have been competitive in most of their losses, something that could not be said last season. Indiana is finally improving, as was their stated goal before the season started.
But that wasn’t enough for the organization to continue on the same path. And so, Stanley was let go.
“I want to thank the Simon family and the Fever organization for the opportunity to lead this team over the past two and a half years,” Stanley said in a statement. “I look forward to the next chapter in my basketball journey, as well as being able to spend more time with my family.”
The decision to move on from Stanley isn’t surprising on its own, but the timing is perplexing. The 2022 WNBA season began less than three weeks ago, so many wonder what led to the change now as opposed to in the offseason.
A league source tells The Next the timing of the move had to do with the Fever’s game and practice schedule this week, with no games until Friday. Indiana has played more games than any other team in the league, so long gaps in between games have been rare for the team.
Several others around the league expressed surprise at the timing of the move.
Knox will now join Dunn on the quest to lead the Indiana Fever out of the WNBA basement. The team has not reached the postseason since 2016 and they have just one season with more than ten wins in that span. The franchise is focused on improvement right now for that reason. And Knox’s player development background will be helpful in that area, especially with a younger team.
“Bringing in Carlos… the well-roundedness, that will be an area that he will focus on,” Catchings said after he was hired as an assistant.
While Knox and Dunn are leaders for the franchise right now, it should be noted that both still carry the interim tag on their job titles. The Fever press release announcing Stanley’s firing noted that Knox will be the head coach for the remainder of the 2022 season. But Indiana still may have some personnel, or job title, shuffling to do in the future.
Everything about the Indiana Fever is changing. Only four players from the 2021 squad are still on the roster. And both the general manager and head coach have changed since mid-February. The franchise hasn’t seen any success for a half-decade, so a change was needed. Now, the organization is in a place where all of the newness can grow together and they will hope it ultimately leads the Fever back to being the playoff mainstay they used to be.
The Next founder and editor-in-chief Howard Megdal contributed to this report.
Written by Tony East
Indiana Fever reporter based in Indianapolis. Enjoy a good statistical-based argument.
I thought Stanley was doing a better job this year than the previous years and the team was much improved. I thought that the player substitution was better this year but a few bench members had a tendency to underperform. A shorter rotation could help but the players removed from the rotation would show less improvement.