What do the recent WNBA coaching hires mean for the Sky?

If Candace Parker returns for another season in the WNBA, she’s the Sky’s to lose in free agency.

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Kahleah Copper is the only member of the Sky’s starting five under contract for the 2023 season.

Kahleah Copper is the only member of the Sky’s starting five under contract for the 2023 season.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The WNBA coaching carousel was set in motion with the bombshell offseason hiring of Curt Miller by the Los Angeles Sparks. Since then, several reports have Sparks’ longtime assistant Latricia Trammell as the next coach of the Dallas Wings.

What do Miller and Trammell have in common?

Candace Parker.

Miller spent one season as an assistant in Los Angeles in 2015 before taking over the Connecticut Sun in 2016. With the Sun, he became a coach of the year (2017 and 2021) and executive of the year (2017). Trammell spent the last four seasons with the Sparks and helped Parker capture her first defensive player of the year award in 2020.

Parker has made it perfectly clear that the only people who know what the future holds for her are the people she wants to know. But you can make a couple of safe assumptions before any official announcement comes from Parker regarding her WNBA future.

The two-time WNBA champion isn’t coming back to play anywhere except Chicago or Los Angeles. When she signed with the Sky before the 2021 season in arguably the biggest free-agent signing in league history, Parker shared that the only team she had any interest in playing for other than the team that drafted her first overall in 2008 was her hometown franchise.

So Trammell’s hire is nothing more than a move Parker has expressed support for.

“No one more deserving,” Parker said on Instagram after reports of Trammell’s hiring in Dallas. “Love you, Coach T.”

The relationship breakdown between former Sparks coach/GM Derek Fisher and Parker set in motion the last two WNBA championships. The Sky’s title in 2021 and the Las Vegas Aces’ in 2022 were firsts for each organization and were led by former Sparks stars Parker and Chelsea Gray.

Two of the biggest storylines of the 2022 season were the impending retirements of Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird. Another was whether Parker would join them.

After telling her Turner Sports colleague Kristen Ledlow she was operating under the mindset that 2022 would be her last season, Parker backtracked. Throughout the year, she said her retirement would come down to whether she could still compete at the standard she holds herself to.

If her postseason performance proved anything, it’s that Parker still has plenty left in the tank. Whether she returns depends on another set of factors.

Parker’s not playing for participation trophies or a farewell tour. If she returns, it will be because the team she signs with has true championship potential. Sky coach/GM James Wade has his work cut out with five unrestricted free agents, including four starters, except for Kahleah Copper.

Parker’s return to the Sky is contingent on the roster Wade puts together, but a Sparks homecoming will take more than talent. When the Sparks fired Fisher in June, it opened the door for Parker’s curtain call in Los Angeles.

But Miller’s hiring brings that possibility into question, considering their recent personal history. After the Sun’s Game 5 victory against the Sky on their homecourt, Miller took the opportunity to boost his team by gibing Parker.

“We’ve knocked Candace Parker out of the playoffs three of the last four years,” Miller said.

Parker’s response was as smooth as her fade away: “We don’t hang conference banners here.”

Who’s to say she and Miller can’t patch up any beef in pursuit of another Sparks title? Of course, the potential is there, but Parker is the Sky’s to lose.

All Wade has to do is construct another championship-caliber team. Selling Parker on returning for another title run is the easy part. After all, she’s not interested in hanging conference banners.

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