Cheryl Reeve’s new contract is promising sign for franchise, new owners and WNBA

This must have been a tough decision for the Minnesota Lynx owners:

Re-sign the coach who has won Minnesota’s last four championships in pro sports or…

No?

By choosing not to pick “no,” outgoing owner Glen Taylor, always an enthusiastic Lynx fan, and new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, whose intentions were less obvious, put the only intelligent decision at their disposal.

They re-signed longtime Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve to a five-year contract extension and raised her title from general manager to president of basketball operations, meaning she can hire a general manager and expand what has been a lean front office.

By the end of her contract, she would have coached the Lynx for 18 years. “I’m full of energy,” she said. “We were the gold standard in this league, and we’re on a mission to get back to that.”

Because of the disparity in spending between men’s and women’s basketball, she may make less than the Wolves’ bench players — the financial terms of Reeve’s deal have not been disclosed — but at least Lore and Rodriguez have ensured she will remain with the organization for years to come.

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Speaking after the deal was announced — Reeve and I co-produce “The Cheryl Reeve Show” podcast — the coach said two things that should encourage Lynx fans:

She called herself “the rest,” saying she never looked at leaving the Lynx even after their championship teams fell apart and the conflict grew more difficult. Reeve, 56, compared herself more to revered San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich than to Phil Jackson, who left championship teams soon after their stars departed.

She’s not thinking about rebuilding, but about “reloading.” She believes the talent available in free agency and coming out of college allows teams to quickly fix roster issues and compete, even after down seasons like the 14-year-old Lynx. 22 campaigns last summer.

But the story here isn’t really Reeve, who will one day be in the Hall of Fame and coach Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics. It is proven.

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The story, for the organization and Minnesota, is Lore and Rodriguez. They are new variables.

Lore has always talked a good game about uplifting and supporting women in business, but neither he nor Rodriguez were at Target Center for Sylvia Fowles’ final game and retirement celebration, a miss for anyone who claims to care about of women’s sports.

Signing Reeve shows that they are not overlooking the more successful half of their organization and are not foolish enough to think they could find a better or more successful coach.

The signing of Reeve, Rodriguez getting involved, expanding the front office and being offered a five-year deal are promising signs for the Lynx and the league.

“As the last contract came to an end, there were some things on my mind,” Reeve said. “Understanding the direction, the vision of our franchise, was definitely the most important thing. I was fortunate to be able to have those conversations with everyone involved.”

Reeve’s first contract with the Lynx, in 2010, was for one year and a team option. She accepted it because she wanted to prove herself.

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Before this week, she had never worked on a five-year contract.

She is an inpatient. She settled in Minneapolis. Her wife, Carley Knox, is president of Lynx operations. (Reeve joked that she needed to improve her title so that their son Oliver would give her more credit.)

“Minnesota has been such a great home for me and my family,” she said. “At the time I was named Minnesota’s head coach, I didn’t have to move here.

“It was so important that I lived here. It was the best thing I did to become a part of the community. … I just don’t see places that are better than what we have here.”

Reeve sees Lynx back in title contention. She sees her five-year deal as the latest sign of the WNBA’s maturing.

“I think about this league and where we’re going,” she said. “It will be the best times in our league financially, and then we will go even further.”

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