After leading Sun to Finals, Curt Miller leaving to coach Sparks

ByM.A. Voepel ESPN logo
Friday, October 21, 2022

Coming off a WNBA Finals appearance, Curt Miller is leaving the Connecticut Sun and will be the next coach of the Sparks, Los Angeles announced Friday.

A former Sparks assistant coach, Miller was with the Sun since 2016 and led them to the WNBA Finals in 2019 and 2022, when they lost to the Las Vegas Aces. Connecticut made the playoffs the past six years of Miller's seven-year tenure, during whichhe was 140-86 and won the WNBA Coach of the Year Award twice (2017, '21).

Miller, who also served as Sun general manager, was named the league's Executive of the Year in 2017.

The Sparks have not announced who will serve as general manager. They fired coach/GM Derek Fisher in June after 12 games of the 2022 season, and he was replaced on an interim basis as coach by Fred Williams. The Sparks finished 13-23 and missed the playoffsfor the second straight season.

Miller, 54, was a collegiate coach from 1991 to 2014, including as a head coach at Bowling Green and Indiana. He moved to the WNBA as an assistant to then-head coach Brian Agler in Los Angeles in 2015 before taking over in Connecticut the following year.

"I loved my introduction to the league in 2015," Miller told ESPN on Friday. "L.A. holds a special place in my heart, and I always said if I had an opportunity at some point in my career to lead this iconic franchise, it would be hard to pass up."

Miller said it was "bittersweet" leaving the Sun, who will join theDallas Wings and Indiana Feverin seeking a new head coach.

"It's a special franchise with an incredible fan base with so much knowledge of women's basketball," Miller said of Connecticut. "But I'm a builder, and there's just something so fun about that. And L.A. is in this era right now, a new beginning. I think it's an opportunity with the Sparks to come in and retool and rebuild it and chase a fourth championship for the franchise."

Los Angeles is the last WNBA franchise to win back-to-back titles, doing so in 2001 and 2002. The Sparks also won a championship in 2016. However, they missed the playoffs in 2021 and 2022, the first time they were out of the postseason in consecutive years since 1997 and 1998, the opening seasons of the WNBA.

Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement that Miller "is the right person to lead the next era of Sparks basketball."

"Curt brings extensive experience as a WNBA head coach, where he has won at a historic pace and helped develop several All-WNBA and MVP-level players," Holoman said. "His teams play with an intensity and attention to detail our players will embrace, and a passion our fans will appreciate."

The Sparks have six unrestricted free agents going into 2023, including franchise star Nneka Ogwumike. She has said she hopes to continue her career in Los Angeles, where she was drafted No. 1 in 2012.

"I think there's an exciting balance in L.A.," Miller said. "People want to be here. We can have a combination of veterans through free agency along with continuing to develop young talent. And there's no better leader than Nneka in this entire league.

"I like that it's player-first in L.A. It's about stars in L.A. I can coach and help these players, but it's about them."