Brian Agler resigns as coach of WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks
By DOUG FEINBERG
Brian Agler is ready for a new challenge.
The longtime WNBA coach resigned as coach of the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday after four years with the team that included winning a championship in 2016.
"Sometimes it's time to make a change," Agler said in a phone interview with the AP on Friday.
Agler officially resigned on Nov. 1, but was required by contract to give the team 30 days' notice. The team announced the move Friday morning.
He is the all-time winningest coach in U.S. women's professional basketball with 315 regular-season wins. He's the first coach in league history to win titles with two different teams: Agler guided the Seattle Storm to the 2010 WNBA championship.
He had an 85-51 career mark with the Sparks, including 19-15 in the regular season this year before they lost in the second round of the playoffs.
"My four years in LA were some of the most enjoyable and memorable in my coaching," Agler said. "I was associated with great players and people with our team. There was tremendous ownership and the front office was supportive. I was happy to be a part of that organization winning a championship."
Agler, 60, was hired as the 12th coach in franchise history on Jan. 5, 2015. In his first season, the team made its league-leading 15th playoff appearance, losing in the first round. Agler signed an extension in 2017 with the team that ran through 2019. If the Sparks make the WNBA Finals next year, his contract would have been picked up for the 2020 season.
He said he hopes to continue coaching in the WNBA or overseas. The Dallas Wings job is the only open WNBA head coaching job. He could be a candidate for the position, but said he wasn't allowed to talk to any potential employers until after Dec. 1 because of his contract.
Sparks executive vice president and general manager Penny Toler thanked Agler for his contributions and wished him the best in a statement released by the team.
In 2016, the Sparks had a regular-season record of 26-8 and won the franchise's third championship. Nneka Ogwumike was league MVP, Candace Parker earned finals MVP honors, and Jantel Lavender was the Sixth Woman of the Year.
Agler was the 2010 WNBA coach of the year and the AP coach of the year in 2016. He spent seven seasons with the Storm and went 136-102 during the regular season.
In 2017, the Sparks went 26-8 and lost in the WNBA Finals to Minnesota, the team they beat for the title the previous year.
Agler first joined the WNBA as coach and GM of Minnesota from 1999-2002. He had assistant stints with Phoenix and San Antonio. He also coached in the ABL, winning two titles with the Columbus Quest, and spent 15 years in the women's college ranks.
Agler's son, Bryce, has been the Sparks' player development coach for the last three years.
The team is owned by an investment group led by Magic Johnson and Mark Walter, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris contributed to this story.
Updated November 30, 2018