September 2, 2022
Indiana Fever move on from head coach Carlos Knox, will begin search for new head coach
The Indiana Fever moved on from interim head coach Carlos Knox on Wednesday. General Manager Lin Dunn hopes to hire a winner.
After coaching the Indiana Fever to a 3-24 record as interim head coach this past season, Carlos Knox will not be retained in the role, the Fever announced on Wednesday.
Knox was promoted to the role in May on an interim basis after Marianne Stanley was fired as Fever head coach. He spent most of the season under evaluation to see if he could be the team’s head coach long term, and his emphasis on defense and development made him a solid fit.
But the results weren’t there. After a decent start — winning three of his first nine games — Indiana lost its final 18 games. A few players showed clear development in that stretch, but the losses piled up in a way that wasn’t the expectation of the franchise. Five of those losses were by 20-plus points, a result that wasn’t as common early in the season.
“We took important steps forward this year, but the expectation for this team and this franchise is sustained success on the court,” general manager Lin Dunn said in a team-issued statement. “We are working hard to build a coaching staff that will deliver on that expectation.”
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Dunn noted her dissatisfaction with the team’s record in her exit interview. “Are we disappointed we didn’t win more games? Absolutely,” she said. She was expecting a few more wins as a part of her plan to build the team back into a contender.
Dunn also shared that day that Knox was still being evaluated at the end of the season. That timing wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement — there isn’t much to evaluate about a coach once all the games have been played.
Many Fever players were fans of Knox and his coaching. They praised him after the team’s final game and applauded the job he did guiding a young team despite the numerous losses.
And Knox himself considered being the head coach of the Fever a dream come true. He was hoping to keep the job without the interim tag. “I would really love to be back with the Indiana Fever as the full-time head coach,” he said at his exit interview with the media.
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But Dunn has other plans for Indiana’s head coaching opening. While it isn’t clear at this time who will next lead the Fever, Dunn will attempt to hire someone who can guide the team to a new tier in the WNBA. She wants the Fever to be a playoff team — or at least close to it — soon.
“We win more games, we are competing for a playoff spot,” Dunn said when asked to define what success would look like in the 2023 season.
With a more winning-centric goal next season, Dunn may look to a coach with experience. Given her many connections, she may have someone specific in mind to coach the young group already. Dunn herself is an ex-coach who led the Fever to a championship in 2012, she knows what it takes to captain a winner.
Gary Kloppenburg, who Dunn hired as an assistant in Indiana during the season, would make sense as a candidate, for example. He has championship experience, knows the franchise and roster, and matches Dunn’s focus on defense.
Perhaps Latricia Trammell, a popular Los Angeles Sparks assistant coach who was a candidate for the Phoenix Mercury coaching opening last offseason, could be a good fit.
Former Indiana Fever coach and player Stephanie White makes sense.
Indiana Pacers assistant coach Jenny Boucek, who formerly coached the Seattle Storm, was present at many Fever games this season after Becky Hammon tried to bring her to the Las Vegas Aces this year. Her experience would be valuable.
Whoever is hired will be tasked with meeting the franchise’s goals for next season. “If our rookies get better, if we do another good job in the draft, and if we get the two free agents that I have my eyes on, there’s no reason why we can’t be one of those teams like those four teams that were fighting for the playoffs,” Dunn said.
The Indiana Fever haven’t reached the postseason since 2016 and have won just 22.8% percent of their games in the last five seasons. Dunn has a plan to rebuild the franchise back into the playoff mainstay it used to be, and hiring the right coach is the next step on that path. The search, per the Fever, has already begun. Dunn needs to hire the right person.