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Liberty won't renew head coach Katie Smith's contract

Liberty head coach Katie Smith watches during the

Liberty head coach Katie Smith watches during the second half of a WNBA game against the Indiana Fever on Aug. 20 in Indianapolis. Credit: AP/Darron Cummings

Liberty coach Katie Smith will not have her contract renewed for the 2020 season, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Smith was hired as the Liberty’s seventh coach in franchise history on Oct. 16, 2017, after spending four seasons as an assistant and associate head coach on Bill Laimbeer’s staff. Smith took over when Laimbeer left to become general manager and coach of the Las Vegas Aces.

Smith just completed her second season as Liberty coach. The Liberty went 17-51 in Smith’s two seasons, including 10-24 this past season. The Liberty missed the playoffs in both of Smith’s seasons as coach.

“On behalf of the entire Liberty organization, we want to thank Katie for her time with our franchise,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. “These decisions are never easy, but we felt it necessary to move our organization forward in a new direction. We wish her all the best.”

The Liberty went through major franchise changes during Smith’s two seasons as coach, moving their home games from Madison Square Garden to the smaller Westchester County Center in White Plains starting with the 2018 season, and then being sold to Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai in January.

The Liberty had the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft and selected Louisville guard Asia Durr. But Durr played in only 18 games for Smith in an injury-plagued rookie season. The Liberty landed the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, a move that could help jumpstart the franchise. Oregon star guard Sabrina Ionescu is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick.

Smith was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame last year and remains the all-time leading scorer in the history of women’s professional basketball, having scored 7,885 points playing in the ABL and WNBA. She spent 14 years in the WNBA with five teams, including five seasons playing for Laimbeer with the Detroit Shock that resulted in two WNBA titles, and her final season in 2013 for the Liberty. Smith was a seven-time WNBA All-Star.

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