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New Chicago Sky coach James Wade says team not rebuilding, aims for playoffs

James Wade was reviewing game film last week while sitting on his couch in Russia when he found out he would be the Sky’s coach and general manager.

“When you get that call, it’s the only moment you have where you can be a little selfish,” Wade said in a phone interview. “After that, it’s all about the team.”

Less than one week after they launched a rebranding campaign that included changes to the team’s color scheme and logo, the Sky announced Tuesday that Wade would replace Amber Stocks, who was fired in August after missing the playoffs twice.

The Sky went 25-43 in the last two seasons, but Wade believes he’s joining a team on the rise. And he wanted to make one thing clear: Despite popular belief, his first season with the Sky is “definitely not a rebuilding year.”

James Wade has been hired to coach the Chicago Sky, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. | Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP

“They brought me here to get to the playoffs, and that’s what I plan on doing,” said Wade, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant on the Minnesota Lynx’s staff. “I’m coaching the team to get to the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs. And you know, I don’t ever want to talk about championships, but that is the ultimate goal.”

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Wade inherits a roster headlined by guards Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot. They were among the best three-point shooters in the league last season, averaging 42 percent and 39.8 percent, respectively. And after shining in their first WNBA season, guard Diamond DeShields, who was named to the all-rookie team, and forward Gabby Williams also are expected to return.

“I really, really like our roster,” Wade said. “I think we have the tools to win.”

On top of bringing back most of their key players, the Sky hold the fourth overall pick in the draft in April.

Thanks to the experience he gained over the last six seasons as an assistant with the Lynx and San Antonio Stars, Wade believes he’s ready to lead his own team.

“Every coach said they were going to help me become a head coach,” said Wade, who played professionally for 13 years, mostly in Europe. “They put me in positions where they empowered me to coach and take on responsibilities that head coaches take on. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years.”