An AP report has revealed that former Minnesota assistant Walt Hopkins will become the eighth head coach in New York Liberty history.
This will be the first head coaching job for Hopkins, a native of Reno, Nevada. He comes armed with WNBA experience, having previously served as an assistant on Cheryl Reeve’s staff with the Minnesota Lynx for the past three seasons.
In 2017, Hopkins helped guide the Lynx to their most recent WNBA title. Minnesota topped the Los Angeles Sparks in five games. Hopkins also served as the director of player development and basketball operations for the defunct Tulsa Shock.
Hopkins is known for his work with guards, having overseen the development of reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier last season. This could come up huge for the Liberty, one of the league’s youngest teams.
The team is set to welcome back first-time All-Star Kia Nurse, who earned 13.7 points per game last season. 2019’s second overall pick Asia Durr is likewise due for a comeback after missing a majority of her rookie season due to injury.
The Liberty are also expected to use the top overall pick in the upcoming selections on Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, NCAA basketball’s all-time leader in triple-doubles.
The new era of Liberty basketball now has a leader as they prepare to return to basketball in the city. After two seasons of franchise limbo during a sale from the Madison Square Garden Company, the Liberty played two seasons at Westchester County Center in suburban White Plains. They will now play home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Ongoing contractual bargaining agreement talks have stalled offseason activities, but amicable talks have both sides hopeful that free agency and the ensuing 2020 season will begin on time.
Hopkins is the first Liberty coaching hire under new owner Joseph Tsai. He is set to be introduced in a press conference alongside general manager Jonathan Kolb at Barclays Center on Wednesday morning.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.