Dallas Wings fire coach Vickie Johnson despite playoff berth

The Dallas Wings fired coach Vickie Johnson on Monday, opting to not exercise the team option on her contract.

Johnson, 50, went 32-36 in her two seasons in Dallas, making the playoffs both years and losing in the first round. This season, Johnson led the Wings to their best record, 18-18, since the team moved to Dallas in 2016.

Previously, the franchise was the Detroit Shock (1998-2009) and then the Tulsa Shock (2010-15).

Despite not having scoring star Arike Ogunbowale for the later part of the season due to injuries, Johnson guided the Wings to a 2-1 first-round series loss to Connecticut in the playoffs.

"While our organization has taken steps forward this season, at this time I believe a change provides our team with the best opportunity to achieve our long-term goals of advancing in the playoffs and ultimately competing for a WNBA championship," Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb stated. "I would like to thank Vickie for her work on behalf of the organization and wish her the best in her future endeavors."

The Wings now begin the search for their fifth coach since 2018. Fred Williams was let go late in that season after an altercation with Bibb after a game. Former WNBA player Taj McWilliams-Franklin finished 2018 as interim coach.

Then Brian Agler, who had won WNBA championships in Seattle and Los Angeles, was hired by Dallas. But he was also gone after two seasons, 2019-20, during which the Wings went 18-38 and didn't make the playoffs. Agler said at the time that he agreed to part ways with the Wings because he and team management had, "different philosophies on how to get where we all wanted to go."

Dallas is one of three currently open head-coaching jobs in the WNBA, along with Los Angeles and Indiana.

Johnson's departure from the Wings comes the day after Becky Hammon, who was Johnson's longtime WNBA teammate and is a good friend, led Las Vegas to the league title in her first season as head coach.

Johnson had previously been a head coach at San Antonio in 2017, the last season before that franchise moved to Las Vegas. Johnson also has served as a WNBA assistant in San Antonio and Las Vegas.

As a player in New York and San Antonio, Johnson played 13 seasons, averaging 10.4 points and 4.0 rebounds.