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Jun 22, 2024  |  
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NextImg:James Wade leaving Sky for assistant coaching position with Raptors

After four and a half seasons as coach and general manager of the Sky, James Wade has accepted an assistant coaching job with the Toronto Raptors the team announced Saturday. Wade’s final game for the Sky was Friday night’s win against the Sparks. Emre Vatansever will take over on an interim basis beginning with the Sky’s game against the Fever, Sunday.

In five seasons Wade coached the Sky to an 81-59 overall record and was 13-8 in the playoffs. His most notable accomplishment as coach and general manager of the Sky was signing Candace Parker ahead of the 2021 season and leading the franchise to its first WNBA title after the team finished the regular season 16-16.

Wade has been linked to various NBA teams throughout his career in the WNBA. He has been open about his desire to learn from coaches and general managers in the NBA but was always adamant that his intentions were to remain in the WNBA.

Last season Wade signed a contract extension through the 2025 season that would have made him the longest tenured coach/general manager in Sky history. His early departure maintains Pokey Chatman’s status as the longest-running coach/general manager with six years at the helm from 2011-2016.

As recently as last month Wade was confidently discussing the future of the franchise which includes the development of a new practice facility which he’s played a key role in. In one interview with the Sun-Times Wade said he planned to be in Chicago as long as the Sky would keep him and hoped to bring another WNBA championship to the city.

“I want to be like Spoelstra and Popovich,” Wade told the Sun-Times in May when asked about his long term aspirations with the Sky. “I want to, but that’s up to Michael. I want to be an old man with white hair like Pop going bald and people will say ‘that’s the dude from the Chicago Sky with a sandwich named after him.’

I love Chicago. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. It’s my favorite city in the entire world.”

Vatansever was hired on Amber Stock’s coaching staff in 2017 and remained when Wade was hired in 2018. In 2022, Vatansever led the Sky to back-to-back wins in June while Wade was absent with COVID-19.