The Hall-of-Famer and former New York Liberty head coach is taking a job in familiar territory, joining the Minnesota Lynx’s staff.
Katie Smith is going back to reclaim the midwest.
For Smith, the hire marks a return to her original WNBA franchise and situates her closer to her hometown of Logan, Ohio. Smith originally joined the Lynx via allocation when the team made its WNBA debut in 1999. She would spend the next six-plus seasons guiding the franchise to relevancy, making five WNBA All-Star game appearances in a Lynx uniform. Smith led the league in scoring in 2001, additionally leading the league in minutes for three consecutive seasons (2000-02). The Lynx would also make their first playoff appearance in 2003.
Smith’s name continues to headline the Minnesota record books despite being traded to the Detroit Shock in 2005. She currently ranks third in points (3,605), fourth in assists (496), and second in scoring average (17.6) and successful three-pointers (460).
Smith will serve as part of an all-female assistant staff under Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve. Current Lynx assistants include Shelley Patterson and fellow Liberty alumna Plenette Pierson. Ironically, Smith takes over a spot previously occupied by Walt Hopkins, who was chosen to succeed Smith as New York’s head coach last week.
The Liberty had Smith on hand in some capacity over the last six WNBA seasons. She spent the final season of her illustrious playing career in a New York uniform and was immediately hired to Bill Laimbeer’s staff upon retirement in 2013. Smith went 17-51 over two seasons as a head coach, her tenure marred by a rebuilding period and franchise instability. Her contract was not renewed after the Liberty went 10-24 last season.
Smith will likely make her New York return when the Lynx visit the Liberty’s new home in Brooklyn this season. The WNBA schedule will be released at a later date.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.