Sky News

James Wade stepping down as Sky head coach, general manager

11 months agoKarli Bell

The Chicago Sky announced Saturday afternoon that James Wade will be stepping down as head coach and general manager immediately.

Wade will be joining the Toronto Raptors as an assistant coach. Effective immediately, Emre Vatansever will take over as interim head coach and general manager. 

Sky principal owner Michael Alter released a statement saying, “We are thrilled that James can fulfill a lifelong dream to join the NBA, and we send him our warmest congratulations and best wishes. We thank James for establishing a winning, team-oriented culture in Chicago and leading the Sky to our first ever WNBA Championship in 2021.”

Wade came to Chicago in 2018 and finished with an overall record of 81-59 during his coaching stint in Chicago and has the highest winning percentage in franchise history. He’s also the only Sky coach to take his team to the playoffs every season, going 13-8 in postseason play. He was named the 2022 WNBA Executive of the Year and 2019 WNBA Coach of the Year.

Vatansever joined the Sky in 2017 after three years as an assistant scout/coach for the Seattle Storm and stayed on the staff when Wade took over in 2018. Vatansever has head coaching experience overseas, but this is his first head coaching position within the WNBA. He coached the Turkish team in Çukurova Mersin in 2022 before being abruptly let go in mid-December. 

Vatansever took over the reins for the Sky for two games in 2022 while Wade was out with COVID-19 and won back-to-back games. 

“My thing when I got here is we tried to formulate the best coaching staff possible of people that really care and have a lot of knowledge,” Wade said Friday during pregame. “I always wanted to put the coaching staff in a situation of ‘could it carry on if I got hit by a bus or something like that.’ That’s what I’ve always searched for and they’ve proven to me at every point that they could, that they’re capable of handling anything. Just like last year when I got COVID, it just moved on seamlessly. It really moved like an automated machine.”

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