Derek Fisher fired as head coach/general manager of WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks

June 7, 2022, 6:19 PM

The Los Angeles Sparks have fired head coach and general manager Derek Fisher and have named assistant Fred Williams as his interim replacement on the sideline.

Hired ahead of the 2019 season, Fisher finished 54-46 overall with the Sparks. The organization said it will begin a search for a new general manager immediately.

"On behalf of our ownership group, I want to thank Derek for his efforts and contributions to the Sparks franchise," managing partner Eric Holoman said in a release. "We wish him the best moving forward. I have full confidence in Fred Williams to step into the role of interim head coach, bringing a wealth of experience leading WNBA teams." 

The Sparks were hoping to rebound from a 12-20 campaign last season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Despite bringing in four-time All-Star Liz Cambage and 2020 No. 4 overall draft pick Chennedy Carter this offseason, Los Angeles is just 5-7 and in eighth place in the standings to start this season, a stretch that included a five-game losing streak last month.

The Sparks also have had an unfavorable schedule, playing just three of their 12 games at home.

Fisher, who won five championships playing with the Los Angeles Lakers and previously served as a coach for the New York Knicks, was the only candidate considered to replace former Sparks coach Brian Agler, then-general manager Penny Toler said at the time. Following Toler's departure from the organization, Fisher eventually assumed the role of GM in December 2020.

"I want to thank the L A Sparks organization, ownership, staff, players, and fans for the opportunity they have afforded me over the last four years as a part of this historic franchise," Fisher said in the team statement, adding that he plans to "shift my focus back to pursuing other opportunities and private endeavors."

"Their support has allowed me to grow as both a coach and front office executive and I am proud of what we have accomplished."

The three-time champion Sparks, one of the three remaining founding franchises in the WNBA, won one playoff game in Fisher's three full seasons. While the Sparks last won a WNBA title in 2016, they made the Finals in 2017, losing to longtime rival Minnesota in five games.

Williams has extensive WNBA coaching experience, including as head coach of the Utah Starzz (1999-2001), Atlanta Dream (2012-13) and Tulsa Shock/Dallas Wings (2014-18), with whom he coached Cambage.

He was supposed to leave Los Angeles midseason after taking the job as associate head coach at Auburn, but a source told ESPN he now intends to leave for Auburn following the WNBA season.