Katie Smith
Jessica Hill/AP Photo

The New York Liberty will not renew the contract of head coach Katie Smith, who spent the past two seasons at the helm.

Katie Smith’s time at the helm of the New York Liberty has ended.

The team announced on Wednesday that they will not renew the contract of Smith, who served in several capacities with the Liberty since 2013. She finishes her New York career with a 17-51 mark.

“On behalf of the entire Liberty organization, we want to thank Katie for her time with our franchise,” Liberty general manager, Jonathan Kolb said in a team statement. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt it necessary to move our organization forward in a new direction. We wish her all the best.”

Smith joined the Liberty in 2013, the final season of a Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame playing career. She was immediately invited to join the bench upon retirement and served four seasons under head coach Bill Laimbeer. A promotion to the top spot came after Laimbeer’s departure in 2017.

The Liberty dealt with numerous calamities beyond Smith’s control during her tenure. Shortly after her promotion, the Liberty were put up for sale by the Madison Square Garden Company. Separation from an NBA partnership, which the Liberty enjoyed with the Knicks, is often seen as a death sentence in the WNBA.

Previous severances befell successful franchises in Houston, Cleveland, and Sacramento, among others. As such, the Liberty were forced out of their prior ownership’s eponymous home and forced into Westchester County Center, a cozy, sub-2,000 seat arena in White Plains, NY, 45 minutes from Manhattan. The 2018 Liberty went 7-27, the worst mark in franchise history.

Slight stability came in the form of Jonathan Tsai’s purchase of the team in January 2019, but the Liberty only improved by three wins to 10-24. Further outside trouble awaited Smith in the form of losing top assistant Charmin Smith (no relation) midseason, as the latter accepted the head coaching job at Cal-Berkeley.

The Liberty also dealt with numerous absences induced by injuries and the EuroBasket Women tournament in Latvia and Serbia. Notably, 2019’s second overall pick Asia Durr missed the final 12 games of the year with a groin injury.

The search for a new head coach is set to begin immediately. New York owns the top pick in next year’s WNBA Draft.

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