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Joe Tsai hires Walt Hopkins of Minnesota Lynx to coach New York Liberty

Minnesota Lynx General Practice Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Walt Hopkins, assistant coach of the Minnesota Lynx, will likely be announced as the next head coach of the New York Liberty, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. Hopkins has been a Lynx assistant for the past three years, winning a ring with Minnesota in 2017.

This will be the first coaching hire for the Liberty under owner Joe Tsai’s group, which bought the team a year ago from James Dolan and MSG, then bought the Nets and Barclays Center in August.

Before his time with Minnesota, Hopkins was the academic coach at Cal. He previously was director of basketball operations and player development for the Tulsa Shock, a now-defunct WNBA franchise.

Hopkins has master’s degrees in education from Harvard and Cal Berkeley as well as a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nevada. Player development has been his specialty.

The Liberty have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at Barclays Center, where the team will play its home games this season, AP’s Doug Feinberg reported.

Previous coach Katie Smith’s contract wasn’t renewed after the season ended in September. Under Smith, who had been hired by MSG, the team was 10-24. They won the WNBA Draft Lottery and will have the first pick in the WNBA draft in April. They are expected to will select Oregon star guard Sabrina Ionescu.