On Tuesday, the Atlanta Dream announced that coach Tanisha Wright’s and general manager Dan Padover’s contracts had been extended to the 2027 season.
Other than the length, the terms of the extensions were not made public, but they represent a substantial commitment for Wright and Padover. While Atlanta’s No. 1 player, Rhyne Howard, went 14-22 last season, the Dream were still in contention for the WNBA playoffs until the final week of the season. The WNBA named her the Rookie of the Year.
“There is an excitement to know that the ownership group believes in you that much,” Wright told. “I’m excited to be here and build on the foundation that we started.”
In February 2021, an ownership group led by real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener purchased the Dream and installed new management. In May 2021, just prior to the WNBA season, then-coach Nicki Collen left for the Baylor Bears. That year, Mike Petersen and Darius Taylor led Atlanta to an 8-24 record.
In October 2021, the Dream hired Wright and Padover, who were both with the Las Vegas Aces at the time.
“I think our ownership group brought both of us in with the idea of, ‘How do we turn this around?'” Padover told. “And after a year, we made some good strides. What this commitment shows is they are supporting us to look out for the long-term of this franchise.
“With that, we’re able to make smart decisions, be patient, not skip any steps. We want to set this franchise up for years and years to come.”
Wright was a star at Penn State and played 14 seasons in the WNBA, 10 of which she spent with the Seattle Storm, who selected her in 2005. She started every game for the Storm, the team that won the league championship in 2010.
Wright, 39, is one of six former WNBA players who currently hold the position of head coach in the league. She began her coaching career as an assistant for the Charlotte 49ers women’s team in the college ranks. She then joined the Aces as Bill Laimbeer’s assistant.
“I enjoy the development part of basketball, seeing players get better,” Wright said. “It doesn’t matter if they are young or if they’re vets, as long as they want to get better.”
In order to acquire the No. 1, Padover, a two-time WNBA Executive of the Year, made the trade in April 2022. Howard was landed by one pick. The Dream have the Nos., a young core, and they could be active in free agency in 2023. 3 and 8 in the April draft’s first round.
“These are the people I want to run with,” Gottesdiener told of Wright and Padover. “They have the highest integrity, and they want to build a team the right way. It’s going to take time, and we wanted to say to them and to the world at large, this is a long-term project, and we’re all in this together.”