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Vickie Johnson's 2023 Contract Option Declined By Wings; Spent 2 Seasons as HC

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 19, 2022

Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Wings are making a coaching change after declining Vickie Johnson's option for the 2023 WNBA season.

Team president Greg Bibb provided a statement on the move:

"While our organization has taken steps forward this season, at this time I believe a change provides our team with the best opportunity to achieve our long-term goals of advancing in the playoffs and ultimately competing for a WNBA Championship. I would like to thank Vickie for her work on behalf of the organization and wish her the best in her future endeavors."

The Wings went 32-36 in Johnson's two seasons on the sideline. Dallas made the playoffs in each of those two years.

It appears the current front office regime will remain in place, which raises a question that's bigger than who will replace Johnson: How much will a coaching change matter?

Arike Ogunbowale is an elite scorer but hasn't shown much improvement from when she entered the league.

The two-time All-Star averaged 19.1 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 38.8 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from beyond the arc as a rookie. This past season, she shot the same clip from beyond the arc with only marginal improvements to her overall shooting (40.0) and per-game averages (19.7 points and 3.6 assists).

Dallas is fully committed to Ogunbowale after signing her to a three-year max extension that begins next season, yet it's not clear whether the 25-year-old is the kind of franchise cornerstone who can get her team to the next level.

Granted, the Wings haven't done nearly enough to build the requisite supporting cast around Ogunbowale.

Charli Collier, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, logged 78 total minutes in 2022. Awak Kuier, who was selected one pick later, averaged just 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in her 12.6 minutes on the floor in her second year.

Allisha Gray might be on the way out as well. Girls Talk Sports TV's Khristina Williams reported in July that Gray "most likely" will be traded this offseason.

Beyond Ogunbowale, there are reasons to be excited about the Wings' future, which will make them attractive to prospective candidates.

Marina Mabrey has taken her game to the next level after the Los Angeles Sparks traded her to Dallas. She was second on the team in scoring (13.6 points).

Satou Sabally has shown promise as well, but injuries have limited her availability. She appeared in 11 games after missing 15 games in 2021.

Still, it wasn't entirely Johnson's fault the Wings were sixth in the standings. This is a roster that was firmly in the middle ground between good and bad, and the fault for that belongs at the door of the front office.

As much as a new coach could help things, it will also be on Bibb to identify the necessary upgrades.

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