Brian Agler leaves the Seattle Storm to coach the Los Angeles Sparks

Brian Agler
Brian Agler. Photo: Seattle Storm.

Los Angeles Sparks executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler named veteran coach Brian Agler the 12th head coach in franchise history on Monday. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I am excited about the possibilities with the Sparks,” said Agler.  “I appreciate the opportunity provided to me from Penny Toler, and of course the ownership group led by Magic Johnson, Mark Walter and Stan Kasten. I am joining a franchise that has a championship heritage, a world-renowned ownership group and an internationally known brand.”

“The Sparks roster is comprised of MVP’s, Olympians and All-Stars who have won championships. WNBA titles do not come easy, but as Sparks head coach I am confident that together with our talented roster we will position ourselves to compete for another WNBA championship for the city of Los Angeles.”

Agler, leaves the Seattle Storm, a team he joined in January 2008 as head coach and director of player personnel. He is the all-time winningest coach in women’s professional basketball history. Storm associate coach Jenny Boucek, a former head coach of the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs, has indicated in the past that she is interested in another WNBA head coaching job.

“In what was a very extensive search to find a talented leader and winner to be our head coach, Brian stood out as the right person to lead the Sparks,” said Toler.  “A proven winner, Brian’s experience and leadership will energize our offense and challenge our defense to return the Sparks to a championship caliber team.”

The Sparks fired former head coach Carol Ross in the midst of the last season. They signed her to a multi-year contract extension in December 2013. While Ross compiled a 24-10 record in her first two seasons, the Sparks were 10-12 when the team let her go. Her assistants with the Sparks, Gail Goestenkors and Gary Kloppenburg, were hired last week by the Indiana Fever to assist first-year head coach Stephanie White.

At the beginning of 2014, the future of the Sparks was in peril as the ownership group led by former television executive Paul Madison suddenly announced that they were relinquishing control of the team because it was draining them of $12 million per year. Guggenheim Partners, a group that includes NBA legend and business tycoon Johnson, purchased the team in February 2014, saving the franchise from going defunct.

During his seven seasons with the Storm, Agler compiled a 136-102 record (.571) leading the team to six consecutive postseason berths (2008-2013). However, the Storm missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 10 years finishing the summer with a 12-22 record. The franchised endured 2014 without stars Lauren Jackson (center) and Sue Bird (point guard). Jackson has been beset with injuries since 2012. The Australian native is preparing for a comeback playing for the Canberra Capitals in WNBL.

“I truly appreciate my days, friendships and experiences with the Seattle Storm” said Agler. “I am leaving a first class organization and wish the Storm and its fans all the best.”

With Agler’s departure, the Storm announced the promotion of Alisha Valavanis to president and  general manager. She assumes all general manager responsibilities, including player personnel decisions, salary cap management and contract negotiations.

“Brian has been an important and valued member of the Storm family for the past seven years and we wish him all the best moving forward,” said Lisa Brummel, a member of the Force 10 Hoops ownership group. “Alisha has come up to speed very quickly on our rebuilding plans for the Storm. Her blend of business acumen and basketball expertise will be invaluable as we look to rebuild a new and exciting brand of basketball in Seattle.”

Under Agler’s leadership, the Storm won the WNBA championship in 2010. Prior to his time with the Storm he was an assistant coach for the San Antonio Stars and the Phoenix Mercury. He was also the head coach and general manager of the Minnesota Lynx from 1999-2002. Before being named the first coach of the expansion Lynx, Agler served as the head coach of the Columbus Quest of the ABL from 1996-1999. He led the Quest to back-to-back ABL championships in 1997 and 1998 and was named the ABL Coach of the Year for the 1996-97 season.

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