Fever hire former assistant coach Christie Sides as next head coach

Christie Sides is returning to the Indiana Fever as head coach, the franchise announced on Friday. Sides served as an assistant coach for the franchise from 2017-19 before moving to associate head coach at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

“Christie has all the traits I value," Interim General Manager Lin Dunn said in a team release. "She is an excellent teacher with a high basketball IQ. She is a relationship person and a connector. Christie will be demanding, pay attention to detail, and will also make sure we defend and play hard. I love her energy and believe she is a perfect fit for our young, talented team."

Sides was an assistant for the Atlanta Dream last WNBA season and worked under first-year head coach Tanisha Wright, who finished second in Coach of the Year voting.

The Fever are searching for answers as they rebuild to a winning franchise. They last made the playoffs in 2016, Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings last season. They have had only one season since their 2012 Finals victory in which they finished the regular season above .500. That was their Finals run in 2015.

The 2022 season was an all-time low .139 (5-31), but the group is a young one after a historic draft. The Fever became the first team with four picks in the first round and brought on NaLyssa Smith (Baylor, No. 2 pick), Emily Engstler (Louisville, No. 4), Lexie Hull (Stanford, No. 6) and Queen Egbo (Baylor, No. 10). Indiana also drafted South Carolina champion Destanni Henderson in the second round.

Indiana has the best chance (44.2%) at the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA draft lottery. The draft lottery is Nov. 11. They also have the No. 7 pick from a trade with Dallas and Nos. 13, 17 and 25. With a decently roomy salary cap and young players on small, unprotected contracts, the Fever could turn a trade for more veteran talent around Kelsey Mitchell.

The Connecticut Sun are now the only team searching for a head coach. The Sparks hired away Curt Miller last month and the Dallas Wings are reportedly hiring Latricia Trammell, formerly of the Sparks.

WNBA coach search: Reeve re-signs with Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx announced on Thursday that they signed four-time championship coach Cheryl Reeve to a contract extension. There was speculation Reeve would leave the franchise and take a job elsewhere after all of the championship dynasty core had effectively retired.

Reeve is elevated from general manager to president of basketball operations. She has historically not signed extensions until November or December and gave no indication that there were any issues with working on one this offseason. It will be her 14th season as Minnesota head coach, the longest tenure in the league.

Her .654 win percentage is the most in league history and makes her the second to win more than 65% of their games, joining Van Chancellor. She is also the head coach of the national team, which won the World Cup title in September.

Who is coaching veteran Christie Sides?

Atlanta Dream assistant coach Christie Sides looks on during a timeout of a WNBA preseason game in May.  (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Atlanta Dream assistant coach Christie Sides looks on during a timeout of a WNBA preseason game in May. (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sides joined the Fever for the 2018 season after a stint at Northwestern. She re-joined Pokey Chatman, then the head coach and manager of the franchise. Chatman and Sides coached together for a total of 12 years at Louisiana State, with the Chicago Sky and at overseas teams in Russia and Slovakia.

Chatman was fired in September 2019, which ultimately ended Sides' time with the team. In their two seasons, the Fever went 6-28 in 2018 and 13-21 in 2019. It was their last season of double-digit wins and only season of them since the 2016 campaign (17-17).

The duo spent six seasons together with the Sky, where Sides was an assistant. They were at the beginning of building the Sky into a postseason contender and took them to their first postseason in 2013. The Sky lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals that season, then made their first Finals appearance in 2014. It was four straight seasons of playoff appearances led by Sylvia Fowles, who later pushed for a trade, and Elena Delle Donne.

From 2009-13, the duo also coached together at Spartak Moscow Region in Russia and went to consecutive FIBA EuroLeague championships in 2009 and 2010. They had five Final Eight finishes for the powerhouse. With the Slovakian Women's National Team, they finished in eighth place at the European Championships in 2009.

Sides has also coached at Ruston High School, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana State. She led her high school to a Louisiana state championship as a player and named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year before playing at Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech.