Sparks hire Raegan Pebley as general manager, their third GM in as many seasons

TCU head coach Raegan Pebley gestures on the sideline during an NCAA basketball game against Texas on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
TCU coach Raegan Pebley on the sideline during a game against Texas last season in Fort Worth, Texas. (Richard W. Rodriguez / Associated Press)

In their continued climb back to WNBA relevance, the Sparks hope their third general manager will be the charm.

The three-time WNBA champions have hired former Texas Christian coach Raegan Pebley as their third general manager in as many seasons, the team announced Friday, replacing Karen Bryant, who led the Sparks for one season as the franchise broke new ground with head coach Curt Miller.

Bryant, who joined the Sparks in 2021 as an adviser and helped hire Miller, will remain with the organization in a strategic role and assist with business operations.

“The plan was always to identify a permanent GM and I'm excited to pass the baton to Raegan Pebley,” Bryant said in a statement. “Raegan is capable and ready to lead the organization through this next era of Sparks basketball."

Read more: Indiana Fever secure No. 1 spot in WNBA draft; Sparks get No. 2 pick

Pebley will transition to the front office after a post-playing coaching career. A third-round pick by the Utah Starzz in the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 draft, Pebley was the head coach at Utah State (2005-2012) and Fresno State (2012-2014) before a nine-year stint at TCU, where she led the Horned Frogs to four WNIT appearances in her first five years before stepping down in 2023 as TCU finished 8-23. She was a TV analyst for the Dallas Wings from 2016 to 2023.

“The tradition and legacy of the Sparks has played a key role in the current trajectory and growth we are seeing in women’s sports,” Pebley said in a statement. “I am eager to partner with our players, front office, coaching staff and community as we foster a culture where our players are resourced with all the tools they need as they courageously chase the best version of themselves and compete for WNBA championships."

The fortified front office, which includes assistant general manager Eli Horowitz and vice president of basketball operations/player relations Ilene Hauser, faces a critical time for the rebuilding franchise. The Sparks are still picking up the pieces from Derek Fisher’s tenure as head coach and general manager that has resulted in no postseason appearances the last three seasons.

Mired in the longest playoff drought in team history, the Sparks own the second and 12th picks in the upcoming WNBA draft that could feature star college players like Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Angel Reese (Louisiana State) or Paige Bueckers (Connecticut).

Read more: Sparks hire former Seattle Storm executive Karen Bryant as general manager

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.