A big part of the Lynx’s past is coming back to be a part of the team’s future.
The Lynx have reached agreement on a deal to bring Katie Smith — recently fired after two years as coach fo the New York Liberty — back as an assistant.
The move returns one of the greatest players in Lynx history, a player who is still sprinkled all over the team’s record book. It also reunites Smith with Cheryl Reeve —they won two WNBA titles together with the Detroit Shock when Reeve was an assistant coach and Smith was a player.
The deal should be finalized by Tuesday, when a formal announcement is expected. Smith will bring both her knowledge and her competitive edge to Minnesota.
“She’s a Lynx legend,” said Reeve, the Lynx coach and general manager. “Having Katie back is exciting for the franchise.”
It is the latest move in a busy offseason for the Lynx. But maybe not the last.
Lynx assistant Walt Hopkins was hired last week by the Liberty to replace Smith, who went 17-51 in two seasons as coach. Shelley Patterson — who has been a Lynx assistant since 2010 — is expected to follow Hopkins to be an assistant with New York. Should she leave, Reeve would have Smith and Plenette Pierson on staff, with a third spot to fill.
With Smith, the Lynx get a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame who has won at every level.
A native of Logan, Ohio, Smith went from Ohio State to the American Basketball League and, ultimately, the Lynx of the WNBA.
She won two ABL titles, led the Lynx to their first playoff berth in 2003 and was a part of three USA Olympic gold medal-winning teams. She scored a total of 7,885 points as a professional in the United States, including 6,452 in the WNBA with five teams. She is third in Lynx history with 3,605 points, second in scoring average (17.6) and first in free throws attempted (1,039) and made (891).
“From a basketball standpoint, coaching, she is exactly what the team needs,” Reeve said. “Talking with Sylvia [Fowles, the Lynx center], her excitement to add someone like Katie is palpable. We worked together in Detroit. We have a strong feel for one another. I appreciate her competitive passion. And I also noted, when she was in New York, her great preparation.”
Both Reeve and Smith worked as assistants under Bill Laimbeer. He was the coach in Detroit when Reeve was an assistant, and Smith served as Laimbeer’s assistant in New York for three seasons before he moved to Las Vegas.