recently had the opportunity to speak with Storm General Manager
and Head Coach Lin Dunn over the phone for about 50 minutes.
Below is a transcript of our conversation. I want to thank
Lin for taking the time during her vacation for this interview
and for answering these questions Scott
How does being both the GM and Head Coach make each job easier
and how does it make each job harder?
Dunn: Well, first of all, let me clarify what the term GM
means with a WNBA team in particular, with the Seattle Storm.
The term General Manager refers to the person that is in charge
of player personnel. That basically means that I am in charge
of all personnel decisions: the draft, trades, waivers, anything
that relates to the actual make up of the team. I think some
people assume that a General Manager means you are on the
business side with the budget and all that type of stuff.
In this situation, Im not. It strictly means Im
in charge of the personnel situation.
From my perspective, I like that. Its a real positive
because it helps me be able to make decisions based on the
type of players that I would like to coach.
One of the things that I talked to Karen
Bryant a little bit about was that the team doesnt
actually own the contracts of the players the league
So the decisions about signing and waiving players have to
go through the league? For instance, when you signed on Michelle
Marciniak and put Katrina Hibbert on waivers and then cut
her was that something that had to go through the league on?
Or were you able to
Right. Every player personnel move whether big, medium or
small, all goes through the league because the league, I guess
you could say, technically owns the players. So any moves
we make a draft, a trade, a waiver, anything, picking
up somebody off the waiver wire it goes through the
league and they have to approve all trades. The league has
to approve everything.
Has that ever gotten in the way of a move you wanted to do?
I dont think its gotten in the way. I think one
of the purposes of this is for the league to monitor a situation
where two or more teams may be trying to pick up the same
player. In particular with players that are waived so then
they have to make a decision as far as to who would have first
choice to that player.
They also are doing it, I think, so that there is some semblance
of order and control. You know, since its not a bidding
war like the men have with money. Theres money involved
so they have to basically coordinate those activities. And
I think theres some positives to that.
I know you are on vacation right now, but how soon will you
start scouting players, watching tape and all that kind of
thing in preparation for next season?
Well, its funny we use the term vacation, because I
am in Tennessee visiting my mother and I am spending less
time dealing with my job responsibilities but not a day goes
by that I dont do something that relates to the Seattle
Storm. I keep up with my emails. I phone my office everyday
to find out whats going on. I actually had a phone call
yesterday from a free agent that was interested in us coming
to her workout or her coming out to Seattle for me to watch
her workout to see if maybe she could play for us. And so
I interacted with her agent and then subsequently called her.
It never really stops; but this is a downtime for me. Im
going to be here until about the end of September then come
back to Seattle and then were going to focus as a staff
this fall on some trades. Well be talking about some
possible trades, coming up for the next couple of weeks and
months. I think once we all understand exactly where we stand
in the lottery and with the draft, I think youll start
to see some possible trades. I dont think youll
see any trades until we have the lottery and everybody knows
what draft pick they have. But we are definitely at this particular
time, as a staff communicating via email. Were working
on individual workouts for the players in the off season,
following where they are right now and what they are doing
in the off season. Some of them are in Europe, some of them
are staying over here. And then we are getting ready for a
clinic that we are going to have September , I think, 14,
15, 16th. Missy and Gary are hosting a coaching clinic so
they are working on that. And then we are talking basically
about personnel moves that we might consider for the future,
deciding which players from this past year that we will definitely
keep as our core players and which players we may or may not
keep. So we are constantly talking about personnel moves right
now. Re-evaluating the season, the pluses, the minuses, the
good, the bad and the ugly.
Do you have suggested workouts for the players in the off
season? If they are on their own or are playing for somebody
else, do you have things that you have asked them to work
on? Do you monitor their workouts during the summer?
Its very challenging to monitor somebodys workout
when they are overseas or somewhere else in the United States.
But when the players left Seattle, we did provide an off season
strength and conditioning program that they took with them.
We also had exit meetings where we talked about the season
as a whole and I indicated to all of the players that I wanted
them to take some time off and rest and then by the middle
of September we would email them an off season individual
workout for them to work on their strengths and things that
they need to work on for next year. And were in the
process of, as a staff, finishing those workouts and we will
email them to them around the middle of this month. So then
they will have a plan of things that they need to work on
to improve for the next season. Obviously, its something
that we will keep in touch with them and ask them how they
are doing, but there is really no way we can supervise them
because we are not there. Now hopefully after Christmas, we
have some players coming into Seattle early and we will actually
be able to have them over to our facility and work them out
ourselves. Thats our plan.
Along those lines weve all heard about, especially
during the playoffs, Lisa Leslie and what shes done
this year and that she, along with other major players like
Tina Thompson, dont play internationally during the
WNBA off season. Lisa especially has talked a lot about how
she worked the whole off season on different aspects of her
game. Do you think that those players that have the ability
to do this have an advantage over the players who are playing
full-time, all year-round and are coming back to the WNBA
I dont think there is any doubt that the players that
make enough money and Lisa is a perfect example, she
makes an enormous salary with the WNBA I dont
think she sees the necessity of going overseas and supplementing
her income. I think the players that stay here and workout
when I say workout I mean really workout, five and
six hours a day, strength and conditioning, working on their
individual skills, shooting, playing one on one with guys,
really workout seriously in the off season are the
ones who get better. Theres not any doubt about it.
I think thats exactly what youve seen happen to
Lisa Leslie. Once she committed to really working in the off
season, she totally improved herself. Shes bigger, shes
stronger, shes faster, she can put the ball on the floor.
You can see all the things that shes done. Players get
better in the off season. Teams get better during the season.
Players, if they really want to improve their game, if they
really want to be better, its what they do between now
and the day training camp is over.
For those players that are playing overseas, is improving
their own game something they are less able to do because
they are in another coaches system?
Well, I think when you go overseas, and most of the players
that do go overseas go over to primarily supplement their
income. I mean, its a way to generate more revenue,
more income. Now, it depends on where they go. Some players
go into programs that are extremely well supervised and they
are afforded the opportunity to lift weights and to really
develop and some dont. You know, I personally believe
that a player that is supervised by one of their assistant
coaches or their head coach and their strength and conditioning
coach in their own facility four, five, six hours a day, five
times a week, has a potential to develop better than someone
Do you get a chance during the off season to travel internationally
to either watch or be in contact with our players or to scout
and take a look at other international players?
Well, last year I traveled to the Olympics and I went to Sydney,
Australia and thats where I saw a lot of the top international
players. This fall, Gary, who has been hired as a full-time
assistant now, one of his responsibilities will be to assist
me with the talent evaluation, as well as helping me keep
in contact with our current players. He will be going to Europe
this fall. Hell do a clinic over there with his father
but then hes also going to stay over there a little
bit longer and look at some of the foreign players and hopefully
be able to connect with our players that are over there while
theyre there. And then hopefully by the end of, I dont
know, either December or January, I plan to go to Australia
to look at their junior players as well as to check on Lauren
and see how her shoulder is coming.
Have you heard anything about how her surgery went?
Well, I talked to her after the surgery. She was a little
sore but there werent any complications and so its
done. Shes gotten it done and thats the good news
and she seemed very, very positive about the fact that shed
had it done and now she is starting her rehab. Im going
to go over there and check on her and also look at the juniors
over there. So, This will be the first time that weve
had myself and Gary both out internationally, and then of
course well both be looking at the college players,
So, just like on the business side where they now have a serious
permanent staff working the whole off season, youre
getting some help on the coaching side.
Right, and it is a very exciting time for us because I feel
like the new ownership has made a very nice commitment to
this team and I think we are seeing this with the commitment
in the off season for me to bring Gary on full-time. Early
in the spring or right after Christmas I plan to hire a second
assistant that will help us with scouting, with talent evaluation
and it will give us the opportunity to have three people to
evaluate our returning players, help me evaluate possible
trades and also help me evaluate the new players that are
coming into the draft.
For the last two seasons, youve really been the center
of the Storms marketing image and message. Its
been your face on all the billboards from the get go with
the dribbling around town, all the way up to the bobblehead
You said recently that its time for some players to
take that role from you. How has being the center of attention
in the marketing affected your time and your position?
Well, I dont think its really affected my time
and position. I think its been something that I knew
early on that was a responsibility that I needed to take on
because we were building from scratch. At first, we had no
players. Now that we kind of have a good idea about who are
core players are, its time for them to become the face
of this team and me to sit back and let the players really
get out and connect with the community and let them be the
focal point of this team. Ive enjoyed being in a situation
where I could reach out and connect with the fans and the
community and try to help to sell tickets and promote and
market, but I also think its time now for us to slide
some of that responsibility over to our players and then I
can focus all of my efforts and energies and time on building
this franchise with the help of my assistants.