The San Antonio Stars announced Wednesday that the 2016 WNBA season will be Dan Hughes’ last. As both head coach and general manager of the Stars, Hughes put in this request himself, and the team will begin looking for his successor as head coach immediately. Hughes has been in San Antonio since 2005, when he turned a 7-27 team into one that made the Western Conference Playoffs in six consecutive seasons. And in 2008 he won Coach of the Year honors while leading the Silver Stars all the way to the WNBA Finals.
Meanwhile, former WNBA star Ruth Riley has been named Hughes’ replacement as Stars GM (effective immediately), and will aid him in the search for his coaching heir. Riley spent the twilight of her WNBA career playing under Hughes in San Antonio, anchoring the Silver Stars from 2007 to 2011. She’s always been one of the WNBA’s biggest ambassadors, and since retiring in 2013, Riley has only further cemented her humanitarian status. The time has come, however, for Riley to return to the league in a leadership position that, by most accounts, was inevitable.
So what does all of this mean? Simply put, it’s time for a new era in San Antonio. As franchise cornerstones such as Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm retired, the Stars have been unable to reload adequately, finishing well under .500 in the past three seasons (along with a league-worst mark of 8-26 in 2015). They’re in a rebuilding phase that’ll probably take more than one season to complete, and as is usually the case in such situations, the franchise would like a new regime to oversee this.
As for Hughes, his plans after 2016 are still not clear, though after reading his statement, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this WNBA season be his last. His 230 career wins are second-most in WNBA history (Washington’s Mike Thibault enters the season with 257), and barring unforeseen circumstances, it seems as if he’ll be content to retire with that honor.