Sky coach/GM Stocks learning how to make the tough calls
The coaching part is easy.
Well, relatively speaking.
Amber Stocks has long dreamed of being a basketball coach, so it's easy for her to get up every morning and think about the X's and O's.
But in her role as the head coach of the Chicago Sky, Stocks has also been assigned the job of general manager of the team. And so far, that's been the hard part.
Stocks, about halfway through her first season as a head coach in the WNBA, made her first really tough decision as a general manager on Monday. She traded away the most tenured player on the team, forward Tamera Young. The trade sent Young, second-year center Imani Boyette and a 2018 second-round pick to the Atlanta Dream for forward Jordan Hooper, who is a fourth-year sharpshooter from the University of Nebraska, and a 2018 first-round draft pick.
Young had been a part of the Sky since 2009, playing nearly nine seasons in Chicago.
But Young, having one of her better seasons this summer, had trade value now. By the end of this season, that value would have plummeted, because she becomes a free agent, and she had expressed some interest about possibly going to another team for 2018.
"Mixing things up can prove to be very beneficial," said Stocks, whose team could use a shot in the arm as it fights for a playoff spot over the final weeks of the season. "The ability to tap into fresh, unpredictable resources should pay off.
"But it was a very tough decision (to trade away Young). I enjoy coaching Tamera. We got along very well. She has been an essential part of the core of the Chicago Sky. The hard work and leadership that she gives has been essential in every step of our success. She is certainly leaving a legacy and footprints that will be significant."
The personal side of personnel decisions like these is tough for everyone, but particularly tough for newbie general mangers like Stocks who are still getting used to this part of the business.
To better handle the nuances, Stocks says she has been leaning heavily on some of her closest mentors, Scott Perry, general manager of the New York Knicks and Carol Ross, a former head women's basketball coach at the University of Florida and a former head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
Stocks has known Perry for years through mutual friends and she got to know Ross when Ross coached her sister Tamara Stocks at Florida. Ross also helped Stocks land her first coaching job at the University of Tennessee.
"I've really looked to those two because of all of their experience. They've given me great insight and wisdom to help me make the right decisions (as a general manager)," Stocks said. "The toughest part about being a coach and a GM is that what might appeal to me as a coach from the immediate perspective, might not appeal to me as a GM because you're looking more at the long term when you're a GM.
"It's been challenging (to find the right balance), and (Perry and Ross) have been trusted advisors for me."
The Sky entered the weekend with two key games on the docket, Friday's road game at Indiana and Saturday's home game against Atlanta, which, ironically, marks the return of Tamera Young five days after the Sky traded her to the Dream.
Eight teams make the WNBA playoffs, which begin in early September. The Sky entered Friday in 11th place, but just 2.5 games out of eighth place.
The Sky was tied with Indiana, with both teams at 8-16 on the season. And the Sky trailed Atlanta, in ninth place, by just 2 games. The Dream is 10-14 on the season.
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