Derek Fisher fired by Los Angeles Sparks

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The Los Angeles Sparks announced Tuesday that they had parted ways with Derek Fisher, who was in his fourth season as coach and general manager.

Fred Williams was promoted from an assistant role to be the interim head coach, and the Sparks said they will begin a search for a new general manager.

The 47-year-old Fisher, who won five NBA championships as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers, was let go after a 5-7 start that has the Sparks in eighth place in the 12-team WNBA. Los Angeles is coming off a 12-20 season in which it missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and for only the third time in the past 23 years.

Asserting that Tuesday’s move was made after “a thorough evaluation of the state of our team,” Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement: “On behalf of our ownership group, I want to thank Derek for his efforts and contributions to the Sparks franchise. We wish him the best moving forward.”

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In a statement shared by the Sparks, Fisher thanked Sparks officials, players and fans for “the opportunity they have afforded me over the last four years as a part of this historic franchise.”

“Their support has allowed me to grow as both a coach and front office executive,” he said, “and I am proud of what we have accomplished. … It has been an amazing ride and I wish the entire … organization great success moving forward.”

Fisher, who posted a regular season record of 54-46 and a postseason mark of 1-4, added that he was set to “shift my focus back to pursuing other opportunities and private endeavors.”

A first-round pick by the Lakers in 1996 out of Arkansas Little Rock, Fisher spent 12-plus of his 18 NBA seasons with the team. After retiring in 2014, he was hired by Phil Jackson, a former coach of Fisher’s with the Lakers, to be the head coach of the Knicks. New York went a franchise-worst 17-65 in his first season before starting the next one with a promising mark of 22-22. After losing nine of their next 10 games, the Knicks fired Fisher.

Fisher then found work as a television analyst before the Sparks hired him in December 2018 to replace Brian Agler. Fisher led the Sparks to a combined record of 37-19 in his first two seasons with a pair of playoff appearances, but the team’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in 2021.

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Holoman said Tuesday that he had “full confidence” in Williams, citing the coach’s “wealth of experience leading WNBA teams.”

Williams, 65, previously served as head coach of the Utah Starzz (1999-2001), the Atlanta Dream (2012-13) and the Tulsa Shock/Dallas Wings (2014-18). The Sparks noted that with the Wings, Williams coached Liz Cambage, a four-time WNBA all-star who is now the starting center for Los Angeles.

“I appreciate the opportunity to steer the team under these circumstances, alongside assistant coaches Latricia Trammell and Seimone Augustus,” Williams said. “We have a talented group of players focused on making a run to the WNBA playoffs and we will collectively embrace this challenge.”

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