The Seattle SuperSonics today named Paul Westhead an assistant coach on P.J. Carlesimo’s staff, Sonics General Manager Sam Presti announced. Westhead brings 30 years of collegiate and professional coaching experience to the Sonics bench.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Paul Westhead join our coaching staff,” Carlesimo said. “He will be a great resource to our talented players, and also to his fellow coaches.”
Westhead joins the Sonics after spending the last two years as the head coach of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, where he compiled an overall record of 41-27 (.603) and led the Mercury to their first WNBA Championship in 2007. Known throughout his coaching career for his teams’ up-tempo style, Westhead’s 2006 Mercury team shattered the WNBA record for scoring by averaging 87.1 points per game, nearly 10 points higher than the previous mark held by the 2000 Houston Comets.
“I’m happy to join the Sonics staff,” Westhead said. “P.J. and I have worked together and known each other for many years and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Westhead began his coaching career at LaSalle in 1970 and has spent 18 seasons as a head coach in the collegiate ranks, compiling a career 285-223 (.561) record. His most memorable collegiate stint came at Loyola Marymount from 1985-90, where he compiled a 105-48 (.686) record in five seasons and led the Lions to three consecutive NCAA appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 1990. In addition to his nine seasons at LaSalle and five with Loyola Marymount, Westhead was also the head coach at George Mason from 1993-97.
Westhead’s NBA coaching career began during the 1979-80 season when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant. Early that season he was elevated to head coach, eventually leading the Lakers to the 1980 NBA Championship. Coupled with the Mercury title this summer, Westhead is the only coach to win championships in both the NBA and WNBA.
Following his time with the Lakers, Westhead also served as head coach for the Chicago Bulls (1982-83) and Denver Nuggets (1990-92), and later served as Carlesimo’s assistant at Golden State from 1997-1999. He was also an assistant on the Orlando Magic coaching staff from 2003-05.