Dream hire award-winning exec as new GM

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert (right) awards Las Vegas Aces general manager of basketball operations Dan Padover, the 2021 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year award before Game 2 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs between the Las Vegas Aces and the Phoenix Mercury Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. (David Becker/AP)
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WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert (right) awards Las Vegas Aces general manager of basketball operations Dan Padover, the 2021 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year award before Game 2 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs between the Las Vegas Aces and the Phoenix Mercury Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. (David Becker/AP)

Credit: AP

Describing the WNBA franchise as almost being new, and with a stated goal of winning on the court, pursuing social justice and achieving women’s empowerment, Atlanta Dream owner Larry Gottesdiener on Monday introduced the team’s new general manager and assistant general manager.

Dan Padover, a two-time WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year with the Las Vegas Aces, was named the general manager. Padover will be joined by Darius Taylor, formerly the Dream’s coach, as assistant general manager. They will be working with Tanisha Wright, who was named the team’s coach on Oct. 12. She worked as an assistant coach for Padover at Las Vegas for the past two seasons.

“We know it will take time and patience to reach our goals,” Gottesdiener said. “But today, the future of the Atlanta Dream has never been brighter.”

Padover said coming to the Dream was intriguing because Gottesdiener told him to treat the franchise as if it were an expansion team, giving him the ability to shape it how he wants. In a way, that is what Padover did in Las Vegas, which like the Dream were struggling to achieve success.

Led by Padover, the Aces finished with the second-best record in the league during the 2021 season and the best record the previous season. Las Vegas went 63-25 and appeared in one WNBA Finals the past three seasons.

“You know when I came into this league, Atlanta was the place to go,” Padover said. “Every player circled it on their calendar. And quite frankly on the court, the Eastern Conference ran through Atlanta. That’s our goal. We want to get Atlanta back to that sustained success. We want to bring energy. And we also want to make sure that the city of Atlanta is very proud.”

The Dream began play in 2008. The team has failed to qualify for the postseason in five of the past seven seasons. It has appeared in three WNBA Finals.

Under Padover, with coach Bill Laimbeer, the Aces had four players named to the 2021 All-Star game, the Sixth Woman of the Year and All-WNBA Second Team. In 2020, the team had the WNBA MVP, the Sixth Woman of the Year, and a player on the All-WNBA First Team and All-Defensive Second Team.

Before joining Las Vegas, Padover was general manager for the New York Liberty. He worked for the Liberty in various roles from April 2012 to December 2018.

Padover praised Wright, who played for New York when he started in the WNBA. He said he trusts her and that she is among those who can lead and motivate.

The duo said they aren’t yet sure what they are going to do with the Dream’s roster. Padover said they will spend the winter planning what it could look like for the pending season, as well as three seasons from now. The team went 8-24 last season, finishing 11th among 12 teams. Padover didn’t want to reveal too much about the possible future of Chennedy Carter, who was suspended for most of the season, saying he needed to speak to all the players first.

Wright said she hopes the team signs players who are accountable to themselves, the team and the community.,

“I think everybody can look at our roster right now and say, you know, we’re at a pivotal point and we’re going to have to see what direction we want to the long term future,” Padover said.

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