After the worst two-year stretch in franchise history, the Washington Mystics announced Monday that the team has decided not to renew the contracts of General Manager and Coach Trudi Lacey and her coaching staff.
“This has been a very frustrating year. We recognize the frustration we’ve been through,” Mystics managing partner and president Sheila Johnson said in a telephone interview. “We have probably the most dedicated fans in the WNBA. They’re frustrated, and they deserve a better team and one that’s going to be competitive and also try to be the best in the league. This is a tough process, and I just want to give my team a chance to succeed.”
When Lacey was hired, the Mystics were coming off a 2010 campaign in which they finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference for the first time.
But Johnson could not come to terms on a new contract with former general manager Angela Taylor and former coach Julie Plank turned down the dual role of GM/Coach.
Johnson then offered the combined job to Lacey, who had worked as an assistant under Plank the previous two seasons and filled both roles for the Charlotte Sting from 2003-05. Lacey compiled an 11-57 record during her two-year tenure with the Mystics.
Johnson said Monday she had not decided whether the organization would continue to have one person serve as both GM and head coach.
“We just know that we had to make a change and we’re just going to look for the best candidate and whoever we choose, we will then make a decision,” Johnson said. “We’re open to exploring all opportunities and do whatever we can do to improve the team. We have to be competitive and whatever that formula we have to put together, it’s really what we need to do. That formula’s going to be up to whoever we hire.”
Johnson could not pinpoint why Lacey was unsuccessful, although she conceded that Lacey “was working under some very challenging circumstances. . . . It just didn’t work.”
Lacey’s stint as GM-coach began with guards Lindsey Harding and Katie Smith asking to be traded once Plank decided not to return. In addition, guards Monique Currie and Alana Beard were sidelined for most of the 2011 season, when the Mystics finished with a 6-28 record.
Lacey also made questionable decisions. In the past two years, she traded for or signed 10 players who are no longer on the roster and released two of the team’s three first-round draft picks. Just three players remain from the 2010 team that finished 22-10: forward Crystal Langhorne, guard Matee Ajavon and Currie.
“I want to thank the organization, players and especially the fans,” Lacey wrote in a text message. “I appreciate the opportunity from the Mystics.”
The Mystics have a 42 percent chance of winning the 2012 WNBA draft lottery later this month. Baylor star Brittney Griner is the consensus choice to be the No. 1 pick.