Source: Orlando Magic assistant Nate Tibbetts to become Phoenix Mercury’s new head coach
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — The Phoenix Mercury have decided on their new coach. A source confirms an ESPN report that the team has hired Orlando Magic assistant Nate Tibbetts. He’ll reportedly become the highest-paid coach in WNBA history. However, no numbers have officially been released.
Tibbetts replaces Vanessa Nygaard, who was fired this year after starting the season 2-10. She went 15-21 in 2022, her season debut with the Mercury. Nikki Blue was the interim coach for the rest of the season. The Mercury finished with the league’s worst record last season at 9-31. They have a strong older core built around Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
Tibbetts got his NBA start in 2011 when he was the assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2013, he was hired in the same role with the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2021, he went to the Magic. The Mercury will be his first women’s basketball coaching job and is the first hire for new Phoenix general manager Nick U’Ren. U’ren came to the Mercury from the Golden State Warriors this year. The move came days after team owner Mat Ishbia announced a state-of-the-art practice facility for the Mercury.
Tibbetts would be the second new coach hired in the WNBA this month. The Chicago Sky announced Teresa Weatherspoon as their new coach. Tibbetts’ hiring bucks a trend of former WNBA players becoming head coaches. Half of the league’s coaches played in the league including Las Vegas’ Becky Hammon and New York’s Sandy Brondello, who have their teams in the Finals.
While Tibbetts has no experience coaching women’s basketball, his father Fred was a successful high school girls coach in South Dakota.
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