The Storm needs a coach, and there are plenty of questions about which players will return to a Seattle team that fell short of lofty expectations.
Sue Bird, the WNBA’s oldest player who turns 37 next month, is returning to the Storm next year for her 16th season.
However, it remains to be seen if interim coach Gary Kloppenburg will be retained.
And there are plenty of questions about which players will return to a Seattle team that fell short of lofty expectations and was eliminated for the second straight year on the road in a first-round playoff game as the No. 8 seed.
“It’s a top priority for the organization to bring in a head coach who can take us to the next level,” general manager Alisha Valavanis said. “We’re putting a timeline together now. We want to go through the process, be diligent in the process, but certainly hopeful that this is something we can get done in a timely manner.”
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Valavanis heaped praise on Kloppenburg, saying he will be a candidate for the job. Kloppenburg replaced Jenny Boucek on Aug. 10 at a time when the Storm lost four straight games and was in a three-way tie for the eighth and final spot in the postseason.
Seattle won its first four games after the coaching change, but lost three of four heading into Tuesday’s 79-69 season-ending defeat at Phoenix.
Kloppenburg, who was a head coach at Tulsa (2012-13) where he compiled a 20-48 (.313) record, hopes to return to the Storm, where he posted a 5-3 record, not including the postseason loss.
“I’d love to have a shot at it,” he said. “I know that’s a decision that ownership makes and they have to go through that process.
“But I felt like with an entire year and a training camp and an ability to develop a pressure defensive system and an early up-tempo offense, I think it would be an exciting challenge. We’ll see how that shakes out.”
After securing a coach, Valavanis plans to address a seemingly talented roster with two All-Stars (Bird and Breanna Stewart) that finished 15-19 and won two fewer games than the previous season.
The Storm has four free agents, including forward Crystal Langhorne, the team’s third-leading scorer who averaged 12.4 points per game and finished second in the WNBA with a 64.7 field-goal percentage.
“It’s different,” said Langhorne, 30, who is a free agent for the first time in her 10-year career. “I’ve never…