Report: Liberty HC Katie Smith Won't Have Contract Renewed for 2020 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2019

WHITE PLAINS, NY - AUGUST 30: Head Coach Katie Smith of the New York Liberty looks on before the game against Connecticut Sun on August 30, 2019 at the Westchester County Center, in White Plains, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New York Liberty have parted ways with head coach Katie Smith, according to the Associated Press' Doug Feinberg

Feinberg reported the team won't renew her contract ahead of the 2020 WNBA season. The Liberty tied for the league's second-worst record (10-24) in 2019 and won the WNBA draft lottery.

The Liberty went 17-51 in Smith's two years, which is a far cry from the consistent success they enjoyed in Bill Laimbeer's final three years. By bottoming out, though, New York was able to add Asia Durr with the No. 2 overall pick in 2019, and the team will add another young star next spring.

Many expect the Liberty to select Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu with the No. 1 pick. Ionescu averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds as a junior and already set the NCAA record for triple-doubles with 18 and counting.

Add Ionescu to a squad that includes Durr and 2019 All-Star Kia Nurse, and New York would have a bright future ahead.

Tina Charles is a wild card because she was signed through 2019. With WNBA players opting out of the current collective bargaining agreement, it's unclear what that will mean for free agents this offseason.

Letting Smith go now is somewhat harsh. Although the Liberty were one of the WNBA's worst teams in 2018 and 2019, she can point to the development of Nurse as a success. Amanda Zahui B. started playing her best basketball under Smith as well.

The general drama regarding ownership—Joe Tsai brought that to an end in January when he purchased the team—and the Liberty's move from Madison Square Garden to Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York, didn't help either.

This is the second WNBA head-coaching job to come available after the Indiana Fever fired Pokey Chatman in September. Given both the size of their market and their promising roster, the Liberty should have plenty of options for Smith's successor.

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