With free-agency negotiations allowed to begin in less than two weeks, the Sparks put in place the final piece of their front office by hiring Karen Bryant as their chief administrative officer and general manager, the team announced Tuesday.
Bryant’s primary WNBA experience came during 15 years with the Seattle Storm, where she served as chief operating officer and, for the final seven years of her tenure, team president and chief executive officer. The former general manager of the American Basketball League’s Seattle Reign, Bryant was one of the Storm’s first hires when the WNBA awarded Seattle a team in 1999 after the Reign folded.
Since resigning from the Storm in 2014, she founded an advisory company focused on advancing women’s sports and joined the Sparks in 2021 as a strategic advisor. She was the interim president of business operations and helped lead the search for current Sparks President Vanessa Shay and coach Curt Miller.
Now the trio’s first major task will be free agency, which begins Jan. 21 with negotiations. Teams can sign players beginning Feb. 1.
“Karen Bryant is a talented and veteran sports executive with a track record of building successful organizations from top to bottom,” Sparks owner and managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement released by the team. “Since joining the Sparks, she has established a bold vision and a strong foundation for long-term growth throughout the franchise. I’m confident her executive leadership, in partnership with head coach Curt Miller and president Vanessa Shay, will lead to sustainable success on and off the court.”
Bryant said she was honored to take on her new responsibilities with the Sparks.
“I’m really excited to partner with Curt, Vanessa and the rest of our team to usher in a new era of Sparks basketball,” she said. “We are committed to building a culture and organization that is representative of the incredible legacy this franchise carries. I want to thank Eric Holoman and our ownership group for this opportunity and their continued investment in the Sparks and the WNBA.”
Bryant later announced that Eli Horowitz, who has been with the Sparks organization for six years, was promoted to assistant general manager. Horowitz will oversee player personnel, scouting, salary-cap management and basketball analytics. Horowitz most recently served as senior director of communications and basketball analytics.
After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, the Sparks have six unrestricted free agents on their roster, including All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike, her sister Chiney Ogwumike, former UCLA star and point guard Jordin Canada and veteran guard Kristi Toliver.
The Sparks, who finished 11th in the WNBA last season with a 13-23 record, have one playoff victory in the last four years.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.