The Chicago Sky will open up a search for a new head coach and general manager after announcing on Wednesday that Emre Vatansever will not return to either role. Vatansever took over as interim coach and GM in the middle of the season after James Wade resigned suddenly to become an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
"We give all our thanks and gratitude to Emre, who has dedicated five-plus years to this organization and helping this team win its first-ever WNBA Championship in 2021," Chicago Sky owner Michael Alter stated in a press release. "His passion and commitment to a winning culture and ensuring on court success will never be forgotten here at the Sky. We are extremely grateful for Emre taking over the helm at a difficult time this season. He did a tremendous job of leading this team to another playoff berth and we will be forever grateful for taking leadership the way he did."
Vatansever joined the organization in 2018 as a player development coach before being promoted to an assistant. Working on Wade's staff, Vatansever played a role in the team's revitilization, which culminated with the franchise's first ever WNBA championship in 2021.
When Wade left in the middle of the season to take the Raptors job, Vatansever had to pull double duty for the rest of the summer. Under his leadership, the team won five of its final six games to clinch the eighth seed and make the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season -- a franchise record streak. The Sky were overmatched in the first round of the playoffs, however, and were swept by the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.
The Sky had been unique in that they were the last franchise with a dual head coach and general manager role. There are, of course, conflicting interests there, which became an issue for the Sky last offseason when Wade traded multiple first-round draft picks for Marina Mabrey -- a solid player but not even an All-Star -- and signed a number of veterans in free agency because he wanted to compete instead of embarking on a rebuild. Those shortsighted moves barely got the Sky into the playoffs, and now they don't have a first-round pick in the most stacked draft in a decade, if not not all-time. That Wade jumped ship mid-season only made matters worse.
While the Sky did not officially announce that the roles will be separated moving forward, star guard Kahleah Copper confirmed that would be the case during her exit interview earlier this week. "I know for sure the positions are going to be separate," Copper said. "Which is great."