As the Los Angeles Sparks reinvest in their head coach, Derek Fisher, questions loom over the future of Candace Parker and other star free agents.
The Los Angeles Sparks announced today that head coach Derek Fisher would be named the organization’s new general manager as part of the terms of renewal of Fisher’s contract. Fisher will lead the Spark’s front office alongside Michael Fischer, the team’s long-time assistant general manager, who is moving to a “Vice President of Player Personnel” position.
The announcement of Fisher’s new role had quite the explosive reaction on WNBA Twitter, prompting widespread speculation about what this move could forbear in relation to the Sparks’ multiple free agents, including stars Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, and both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.
lmfaooo my entire timeline is recruiting candace parker, i love it— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) December 22, 2020
Candace Parker got particular attention, with many fans predicting that Fisher’s extension would be the last straw in what has been a rocky relationship between Fisher and Parker, his star player. The idea of a ‘rift’ between the two goes back to the 2019 playoffs, when Fisher benched Parker during the deciding minutes of Game 3 of a semi-final match-up against the Connecticut Sun. Parker was barely played during the game, and was seen saying “Why would he do that right now?” as she returned to the bench.
The Sparks lost that Game 3, allowing the Sun to complete their sweep and move on to the Finals. Fisher was panned in the press, and Parker’s reaction has become to baseline of a narrative of disdain between her and Fisher. With her impending free agency, and Fisher’s new extension and expansion of responsibilities, it looks to many like a Parker/Sparks break up is imminent.
However, Fisher made it clear that Candace Parker was absolutely a priority for him and the Sparks organization in free agency when he addressed the press after his extension. Per The Next’s Howard Megdal, Fisher claimed that he and Parker have spoken at least “30 times” since the end of the season, discussing the Spark’s future and the team’s path to improvement. This suggests that this narrative of a ‘rift’ between Parker and her coach may be overstated, or, at the very least, may have been closed some over the past year.
Only time will tell whether Candace Parker will stay in LA, or, if she’ll choose to move on from the team she’s spent her career with when free agency opens February 1st. For now, Fisher and the Sparks remain determined to resign the face of their franchise.
“Our intentions are to make sure Candace never plays a game for another team,” Fisher told the media. “But we have to earn that back from her through the right conversations.”
Dani Bar-Lavi is a genderfluid sportswriter who largely covers the WNBA. For more thoughts and opinions from Dani, check out their Twitter, their author page here, or, visit NetsRepublic or Queen Ballers Club.
Image courtesy of the Associated Press.