Brian Agler is very familiar with how talented the Los Angeles Sparks are, having coached against them for the past seven years. Now he'll get a chance to lead them.
Agler has been hired to coach the Sparks, the team announced Monday. Agler has been the head coach of the Seattle Storm since 2008 and guided the team to the WNBA championship in 2010.
"I had a great desire to stay in Seattle and I know that all franchises are in different stages," Agler said. "Seattle's in a rebuilding mode right now, and I wanted to see it through. But sometimes things don't work out that way; sometimes it's just time."
Agler inherits a talented team led by stars Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike.
It has been a whirlwind year for the Sparks. It was just more than a year ago when the team was in a state of chaos after previous owner Paula Madison said she was going to sell the team. A group led by Magic Johnson stepped up and bought the team in February.
Sparks general manager Penny Toler fired coach Carol Ross midway through this past season and took over the coaching duties herself. Toler said at the time that she wasn't interested in being the permanent choice as head coach. The Sparks lost in the first round of the playoffs to Phoenix.
Agler had nothing but good things to say about his time in Seattle.
"I know that I'm leaving a really tremendous organization from top to bottom, from ownership to front office to players and fans," the 56-year-old coach said. "I have a lot of great friendships there."
Agler also led the Columbus Quest of the now-defunct American Basketball League to two championships. He was extremely successful in Seattle, guiding the Storm to the playoffs every year except this past one.
Seattle even qualified for the postseason in 2013 without injured stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. Agler finished second for the league's coach of the year that season.
He said he'll miss his players and that it was tough telling them of his move.
"It was difficult telling Sue and Lauren ... as they've been part of the foundation since I've been there," Agler said. "But also I'm going to really miss the Storm crazies. They are phenomenal, and I've never worked in an environment where the fans have been so passionate. They really love their sports teams."
This past season, Seattle finished in sixth place in the West, as Jackson was still hurt. The Storm won the WNBA draft lottery and have the top pick.
Agler will get a chance to see his former team early in the season, as the Storm host the Sparks in the season opener June 6. The two teams play again a week later in Los Angeles.
The Storm started an immediate search to replace Agler.
"In terms of a timeline, this is top priority; we will move as swiftly as we can and as thoroughly as we can," Seattle president Alisha Valavanis said. "We're very aware, acutely aware of free agency starting. We're going to be thorough and find the right fit as soon as we can get that done."
Valavanis, who added the responsibilities of general manager for the Storm on Monday, confirmed that associate head coach Jenny Boucek is a candidate for the job.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.