Storm head coach Dan Hughes announces sudden retirement

Seattle Storm coach Dan Hughes announced his retirement Sunday, after a successful career that included guiding the team to a Championship in 2018. Elaine Thompson/AP Photos.

After nearly 600 games coached in the WNBA, Dan Hughes is stepping away.

In a stunning announcement Sunday afternoon, the 66-year-old said he believes the time is right, with his Seattle Storm off to a 5-1 start, “but the rigors of being a head coach in the WNBA have taken their toll on me.”

Associate head coach Noelle Quinn will step into the top job, while the remainder of the staff remains intact with assistants Gary Kloppenburg, Ryan Webb, and Perry Huang.

“I am excited to hand the reins to Noelle,” Hughes said in a release. “She is well-positioned to do this job, and I am proud to have mentored her during my time here. I look forward to her and the team’s ongoing success.”

The two-time WNBA Coach of the Year, Hughes was absent from the Seattle bench during their title run in the “Wubble” after the league declined to medically clear him over concerns he could be at higher-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The year prior, he missed the season’s first nine games following cancer surgery, but helped the guide a Seattle side down two stars in Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart to a surprising playoff berth and first-round victory.

However, it’s 2018 that will go down as the biggest feather in Hughes’ coaching cap, as the Storm cruised to a 26-8 regular season record and won their third championship behind major strides in the development of Stewart and Jewell Loyd, the breakout campaign of Natasha Howard, and the steady hand of Sue Bird.

“It has been an honor to have Dan coach in Seattle and he will forever be attached to one of the most successful periods this franchise has known,” said Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel in a release.

Despite his departure from the Storm, basketball fans haven’t seen the last of Hughes. He still intends to serve as an assistant on Geno Auriemma’s Team USA staff for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Quinn becomes the latest branch on Hughes’ lengthy coaching tree, joining the likes of Chicago’s James Wade and Dallas’ Vickie Johnson. Now in her third year on the coaching staff, Quinn has handled much of the team’s offensive strategy, and was at the helm for the team’s 90-87 win over Connecticut on May 25 while Hughes was away for his son’s graduation.