Fisher given contract extension and GM title for the Sparks

The Los Angeles Sparks extended coach Derek Fisher’s contract and appointed him the team’s general manager on Tuesday.

Fisher has guided the Sparks to a 37-19 record in his two years with the team and Los Angeles has reached the postseason both years.

“I’m honored to be named general manager of the LA Sparks and continue my role as head coach,” Fisher said. “This organization has a dynamic history, the most passionate fans in the WNBA, and an ownership group committed to success on and off the court. I’m thankful for the opportunity and excited to guide this team as we pursue a fourth WNBA title.”

Five of the 12 teams in the league have a coach also serving as the franchise’s general manager. Fisher joked that he separated himself from the negotiation for the contract extension as coach as it was handled by the team’s chief executive officer.

One of his first responsibilities as GM will be to bring back star Candace Parker, who is a free agent. Fisher made it clear that the franchise player isn’t going anywhere. He said he’s texted or spoken with Parker by phone “30 times” since the season ended.

“We have every intention to re-sign Candace Parker and make sure she finishes her career in LA,” he said. “There is no hesitation or discussion, that is a priority of ours. Our intentions are that Candace never plays another game for any other team.”

With WNBA free agency looming and the holidays at hand, Fisher thought it was the right time to announce the moves.

“It was very important to make this announcement and provide some additional clarity,” Fisher said. “But it doesn’t stop there. We have a lot of work to do… because we have an opportunity to sit down with our (players’) agents as well as others, to be able to help them understand who we are and where we’re trying to go.”

Michael Fischer, who has served as the assistant general manager since 2018, will be the team’s vice president of player personnel. Sparks Managing Partner and Governor Eric Holoman will assume the role of chief executive officer and governor.

The Sparks fired previous General Manager Penny Toler after the 2019 season and Fischer was the interim GM this past season.

“Over the past year, the Sparks have worked diligently to establish a new culture for basketball operations under the leadership of Derek, Michael and I,” Holoman said. “Derek is a proven winner and has brought strong leadership skills to the organization. Michael is a WNBA veteran with invaluable experience in player personnel. I have full confidence that this front office will continue to put the Sparks in position to compete for championships every year.”

On the business side, President and Chief Operating Officer Danita Johnson will be leaving the Sparks. Senior Vice President Natalie White has been named interim president and COO. The Sparks will conduct a national search for a new president and COO to oversee business operations.

“We want to thank Danita for her significant contributions to the LA Sparks and we wish her the best moving forward,” Holoman said.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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