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Liberty, coach Walt Hopkins part ways

New York Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins talks

New York Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins talks to guard Sabrina Ionescu and guard Sami Whitcomb during the second half against the Seattle Storm at Barclays Center on Aug. 20, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Liberty announced on Monday that they have parted ways with head coach Walt Hopkins.

The team made the announcement on social media and said it was a decision by Hopkins and management.

In two seasons, Hopkins was 14-40 during the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs.

"We thank Walt for his spirit & commitment over the last two seasons, in which the team developed 3 WNBA All-Rookie Team members & Rookie of the Year," the team said on Twitter.

The Liberty said they have initiated a search for a new head coach.

Hopkins was a Minnesota Lynx assistant coach and had no head coaching experience when he was hired by the Liberty in January 2020. The Liberty went 2-20 in Hopkins’ first season, which was a shortened season because of COVID-19. It was also the rookie season of No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu, who played in only three games after suffering a Grade 3 sprain of her left ankle.

The Liberty made some major roster moves for the 2021 season, acquiring forward Natasha Howard for the No. 1 overall draft pick and guard Sami Whitcomb in separate sign-and-trade deals with the Seattle Storm, signing guard/forward Betnijah Laney in free agency, and adding forward Michaela Onyenwere and guard Didi Richards in the draft. Those moves helped the Liberty improve to 12-20 in 2021, making the playoffs and losing to the Phoenix Mercury, 83-82.

Hopkins was tasked with player development when he took over coaching the Liberty’s young roster. Jazmine Jones was named to the WNBA all-rookie team in 2020, and Onyenwere was named WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2021. Onyenwere and Richards were named to the 2021 all-rookie team.

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