Mystics name Trudi Lacey general manager and coach

Monday, November 1, 2010; 11:51 PM

Lacey named coach, general manager

After two of the most successful seasons in franchise history, the Washington Mystics got rid of their general manager and coach in a cost-cutting move and now have promoted their director of basketball operations to fill those vacant positions.

Trudi Lacey, who joined the Mystics as an assistant coach in 2009 and became the director of basketball operations last season, was named Washington's general manager and coach on Monday, replacing former general manager Angela Taylor, who was let go a month ago, and Julie Plank, who was let go as coach last week. Lacey becomes the team's sixth GM and 12th coach in the franchise's 13 seasons.

In a conference call with reporters, Sheila Johnson, Mystics president and managing partner, summed up the moves by saying, "This is about business."

"We had to make some cost changes," Johnson said. "Even though we were successful on the floor, you have to understand we weren't successful on the business side. We just have to make these changes in order to keep the franchise alive."

Last season, despite losing all-star guard Alana Beard before the season to an ankle injury, Washington won a team-record 22 games. The Mystics also were the top seed in the Eastern Conference but were swept in the playoffs by the Atlanta Dream.

In praising her new coach and general manager, Johnson had little to say about Lacey's coaching or personnel abilities. Her first words about Lacey were "She is just an amazing woman who's really going to be terrific in the community at large."

Johnson said that after Plank turned down her offer to become general manager as well as coach, she immediately turned to Lacey, who was the only candidate for the job. Johnson also consulted her ex-husband, former Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson - who knew Lacey when she was general manager and coach of the Charlotte Sting from 2003-2006 - and her son about the hire.

Asked if she believed Lacey can help the Mystics win, Johnson said, "I don't care who you bring in, even if we had Michael Jordan as the coach, everything is a crap shoot. You're going to try the best you can. I know she has the ability to do it."

Though she apologized to fans for taking as long as she did to hire a general manager and coach, Johnson said she did not feel the need to keep them informed as the process unfolded.

"It's not appropriate to sit up there and let our fans know every little move we're making. That is not good business," Johnson said. "It is not appropriate. And the fans, I hope, at this point are going to trust in us and trust in me in our decisions. We're doing the best that we can to make the Mystics a solid and viable franchise."

Judith E. Schaeffer, a season-ticket holder for all 13 seasons and co-author of the blog DC BasketCases, said she was sorry she renewed her season tickets after the latest developments.

"I have suffered through, as have other long-time fans, a revolving door of coaches and general managers that has condemned this franchise to mediocrity or worse," Schaeffer said. "The Mystics front office just doesn't understand the reaction here. I don't know how you get rid of the most successful GM and most successful coach that a franchise has ever had. It's incomprehensible to me as a founding fan. I am quite frankly stunned and sickened by what has happened in the last month to this team."

- Kathy Orton

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