ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas Wings coach Fred Williams was relieved of his duties Sunday with the club mired in an eight-game losing streak that jeopardized a playoff spot that once seemed secure.
Team President and CEO Greg Bibb announced his decision several hours after a 93-80 road loss to Washington. Assistant Taj McWilliams-Franklin was named interim coach. The Wings (14-17) have a one-game lead over Las Vegas for the WNBA’s final playoff spot with three games remaining.
Bibb said the club will look for a new coach after the season.
“I felt this move was necessary,” Bibb said. “The season has not met our expectations. I have the upmost confidence that (McWilliams-Franklin) and our staff will do everything possible to put us in the best position to win. Our focus remains on qualifying for the playoffs and ultimately competing for a WNBA championship.”
The 61-year-old Williams was close to the end of his fifth season with the franchise. The first two years were with the Tulsa Shock before the club moved to the Dallas area and was renamed the Wings.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Wings had expectations of a higher finish in the Western Conference this year and a longer postseason run with the addition of center Liz Cambage to play alongside fellow All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Cambage, a 6-foot-8 Australian, set a WNBA record with 53 points in a 104-87 win over the New York Liberty during a 7-1 stretch for the Wings. The losing streak started two games later, and Cambage has missed the past two games after hitting her head on the floor against Connecticut on Wednesday.
Williams is 131-153 in 10 seasons, which included stops in Utah and Atlanta before joining the franchise that won three titles in Detroit before moving to Tulsa in 2010. Williams’ teams have made the playoffs four times, with a record of 5-9. His last playoff win was with Atlanta in 2013, when the Dream lost in the WNBA Finals.
Erin Phillips, who played her final season with the Wings in 2016 before retiring, is another assistant on the staff. Phillips and Cambage were teammates on the Australian national team.