Jim Souhan
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This must have been a difficult decision for the owners of the Minnesota Lynx:

Re-sign the coach who has won Minnesota's last four pro sports championships or …


By choosing not to choose "not,'' outgoing owner Glen Taylor, always an enthusiastic supporter of the Lynx, and incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, whose intentions were less obvious, made the only intelligent decision available to them.

They re-signed longtime Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve to a five-year contract extension and elevated her title from general manager to president of basketball operations, meaning she can hire a general manager and expand what has been a lean front office.

By the end of the deal, she will have coached the Lynx for 18 years. "I'm energized,'' she said. "We have been the gold standard in this league, and we're on a mission to get back to that.''

Because of the discrepancy in spending between men's and women's basketball, she may make less than a player at the end of the Wolves' bench — financial terms of Reeve's deal were not disclosed — but at least Lore and Rodriguez ensured that she will remain in the organization for years to come.

In a conversation after the deal was announced — Reeve and I produce "The Cheryl Reeve Show" podcast together — the coach said two things that should hearten Lynx fans:

She called herself "a stayer,'' saying she never looked to leave the Lynx even after their championship teams broke up and contending became more difficult. Reeve, 56, compared herself more to venerable San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich than to Phil Jackson, who left championship teams soon after their stars departed.

She isn't thinking about rebuilding, but rather "re-loading.'' She believes that the talent available in free agency and coming out of college allows teams to quickly address roster concerns and contend, even after poor seasons like the Lynx's 14-22 campaign this past summer.

But the story here isn't really Reeve, who is headed to the Hall of Fame someday and will coach Team USA in the 2024 Paris Olympics. She's proven.

The story, for the organization and Minnesota, is Lore and Rodriguez. They're the new variables.

Lore has always talked a good game when it comes to elevating and supporting women in business, but neither he nor Rodriguez were in Target Center for Sylvia Fowles' final game and retirement celebration, a faux pas for anyone who would claim to care about women's sports.

Signing Reeve shows that they aren't ignoring the more successful half of their organization and aren't silly enough to think they could find a better or more accomplished coach.

Lore signing Reeve, Rodriguez getting involved, expanding the front office and offering a five-year deal are all promising signs for the Lynx and the league.

"As the last contract was coming to an end, there were some things on my mind,'' Reeve said. "Understanding the direction, the vision for our franchise, was certainly top of mind. I was fortunate to be able to have those conversations with all involved.''

Reeve's first contract with the Lynx, in 2010, was for one year and a team option. She accepted it because she wanted to prove herself.

Before this week, she had never worked under a contract as long as five years.

She's a stayer. She settled in Minneapolis. Her wife, Carley Knox, is the Lynx president of business operations. (Reeve joked that she needed her title upgraded so their son, Oliver, would give her more credit.)

"Minnesota has been such a great home for me and my family,'' she said. "At the time when I was named head coach of Minnesota, I didn't have to move here.

"It was so important that I lived here. It was the best thing that I did to become a part of the community. … I just don't see places that are better than what we have here.''

Reeve sees the Lynx returning to title contention. She sees her five-year deal as the latest sign of the WNBA maturing.

"I think about this league and where we're headed,'' she said. "It'll be the best times in our league financially, and then we'll go even further.''