NBA rumors: De'Aaron Fox not as engaged with the team as before?

Could Fox be better? Yes. Could he be more engaged this season? Very specifically, yes. Things I hear behind the scenes… he’s not as engaged in the team, as he has been in the past. And that’s a problem.

More on Sacramento Kings Turmoil?

Sean Cunningham: Interesting visual during the end of first quarter break, as Moe Harkless lost his cool, appeared to direct his frustrations at Buddy Hield in the Kings huddle. Harkless & Hield on the court now and seem to have let the moment pass, but Harkless was not pleased.
Christie, a player who spent 14 seasons in the league and is widely remembered for his own altercation with former Laker Rick Fox, gave the right response. “For me, and I don’t know, because everyone is different, but that’s good, you care, you’ve got a pulse,” Christie said. “Show me that this is what you want. On top of it, we constantly ask for communication. They’re communicating. How they are communicating, I’ll leave that up to everybody else to judge. The fact that they worked it out together and we keep it moving, I’m so here for that, because if you hold it in, what happens then?”
Barnes had two stints in Sacramento – one in 2016-17 and another all the way back in the 2004-05 season. The year after that was the last time they made the playoffs, 15 seasons ago. “I think small market teams have to do a few different things to stay relevant in this league,” Barnes continued. “One is draft really well – and the Kings haven’t necessarily drafted well. And if you happen to miss on the draft, you have to make a move. They’ve been sitting on Marvin Bagley, the number two pick. They’ve got to trade him away and get some assets if you’re not going to play him.”
Sean Cunningham: Tristan Thompson critical of his Sacramento Kings team once again, calling out the soft play, shooting struggles, lack of defense and another 4th quarter collapse in Monday's loss to the Sixers.
Jason Anderson: “You can’t be nice in this league. You can’t be nice. Nice teams always finish last or get excited about lottery balls.” -- Kings F Tristan Thompson
James Ham: Tristan Thompson on Luke Walton:
Jason Anderson: "We can either improve or we’ve got to start looking to play different people. That’s the solution, really. If we can’t get it done with the people we have out there, as a coach, I’ve got to decide on different people being out there." -- Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry
After the game, NBA Champion Tristian Thompson had a lot to say about the Kings, and a clip of him speaking can be seen in a tweet that is embedded below rom the Twitter account of Kings on NBCS. "You gotta be ready to play, your numbers called, you're in the damn game, I don't need no f***ing coach to inspire me," Thompson said to reporters. "Never that, never have, never will. The day I need a coach to inspire me is the day I'm f***ing retiring."
Jason Anderson: "This is the NBA. No one’s going to feel sorry for you. C-Webb and Bibby ain’t coming through that door, so you’ve go to keep pushing each and every day, keep getting better in practice, keep watching the film, learn from the mistakes." -- Tristan Thompson
De'Aaron Fox: He’s not apart of my team. He doesn’t work for me. He’s a parent and a fan talking just like y’all. So take whatever they say as fans having conversations like y’all do everyday.
Following the team’s 138-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, frustrations were high. Glenn Robinson III was forceful with his postgame comments, demanding his teammates take accountability for their lackluster play. Harrison Barnes and De'Aaron Fox took center stage after practice Saturday afternoon, reiterating some of Robinson's frustrations. “Right now, we’re just playing soft,” Barnes said. “We’re not having enough resistance defensively. We’re allowing teams to play free and easy and until we collectively choose to change that, we’re going to keep getting our heads beat in.”
Jason Jones: Harrison Barnes said the Kings are just playing “soft” right now and there has to be a commitment play with force and resistance.
Jason Anderson: Chimezie Metu on Kings social media drama: "The guys are still hanging out with one another, talking to each other. It’s not like the locker room is divided or anything. Everybody’s still how they were when we first got here for training camp. Everybody’s cool with each other.”
It would be far-fetched to think the Kings’ season could be completely derailed by parental tweets, especially when league sources said Fox and Bagley are perfectly fine with each other. The only reason anyone would believe this could be a reason for poor play is that it is the Kings, where the wacky and unbelievable has a tendency to happen.
Fox, however, is outspoken like his father Aaron, and had no problem squashing the notion that players’ parents could lead to beef in the locker room or disrupt play on the court. “I don’t think anybody’s out there playing basketball worried about two tweets,” Fox said. “And if you are, this ain’t what you should be doing because muthafuckas gonna tweet you every day of your life while you’re playing in this league. If that’s what you’re worried about, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
Fox, who is about as engaging as any Kings player on social media, said there’s nothing hanging over the team because of the tweets. “One, it hasn’t been brought up,” Fox said. “Me, Marvin, Luke talked for five seconds because it wasn’t a big deal. But like I said, when you’re playing basketball if you’re thinking about what somebody said on Twitter, then this ain’t for you. I’m 100 percent completely honest with you when I tell you nobody’s thinking about that while we’re on the court.”
Fox was asked if it would have cleared things up in the locker room had Bagley dismissed the trade talk when he spoke to the media Sunday. “I doubt 95 percent of the team has seen the interview so I don’t think that would have changed what happened tonight,” Fox said. “We just didn’t play well.”
It’s not the first time those running the Team Bagley account have taken shots at the organization. It did so earlier in the week when Bagley III did not play in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win over Denver, retweeting a post about Lakers fans not liking Luke Walton as a coach and others calling for Bagley III to play more, as well as complaining about Bagley III’s treatment and declaring him healthy after injuries limited him to 13 games last season.
So this notion of giving up personnel power, in Divac’s eyes, was a nonstarter. Divac and Ranadive then decided to take a break from the discussion and circle back, sources say. Divac, who had told Ranadive he would not accept the proposal, informed Ranadive that he would conduct exit interviews with his players in Sacramento and that they could speak again afterward.
Overall, however, the impression the Kings left was that they were too reactive, too heavily staffed with Divac’s Serbian cronies and too lightly staffed everywhere else. While the Kings made a decent-sized investment in analytics, you never got the sense it seeped very far into their basketball operations or coaching decisions.
So when the Kings' season ended Thursday, and Hield was asked if he's comfortable with his role off the bench in Sacramento heading into next season, his answer raised some eyebrows. Including, I'd imagine, some in Philadelphia. Here's what Hield had to say: [Hield] provided a series of short answers during a Zoom session with reporters and offered a cryptic response when asked if he could be content with his role going into next season. "Y'all know me," Hield said. "Y'all know how I talk. Y'all know how I feel. Y'all can read me well, so I'll let y'all answer that yourselves."
Frustration has been mounting among Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and others within the ownership group over the franchise’s front office and coaching, multiple sources tell The Athletic. Sources say Ranadive has shared his frustration with both front office and coaching decisions in a variety of unfiltered ways, including private conversations with business associates and in text messages during a season-long group chat with Divac, coach Luke Walton, assistant general manager Peja Stojakovic and Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis. The complaints, sources say, have been focused on the team’s underachievement and the part they all played in it.
As it stands, however, sources say there is no indication that a change to the front office or coaching staff will be made anytime soon. But the tension that has returned to the Kings’ environment begs the question: Will Ranadive stay the course, prioritizing stability in the front office after all these years of turnover, or perhaps look to make a change in the summer?
Ranadive, sources say, ramped up his interest in learning all about his team’s scouting process earlier this season and sought more insight about their collective network, with the belief that it was a reaction to previous draft events and the looming questions about why Doncic wasn’t selected.
Throughout the Kings’ pre-draft process in 2018, the Kings scouted Doncic heavily, including a dinner with the young prodigy led by Ranadive that also included Vivek’s son, Aneel, and Divac; the gathering was shared on Aneel’s social media. There was ownership support for the drafting of Doncic at No. 2 overall, but Divac, along with then-assistant general manager Brandon Williams and Stojakovic had concerns about his upside compared to Bagley’s, sources said. As The Athletic reported last month, the belief that Doncic’s ball-dominance would limit Fox’s ability to grow and that they were better suited pairing him with a talented big like Bagley were driving forces behind the decision.
Hield responded with a team-high 21 points in Sacramento’s 98-81 win over the Chicago Bulls to end their six-game losing streak. After the game, Hield told The Athletic his sunny disposition before the game was how he dealt with the talk that he was at fault for the Kings’ struggles the last five-plus weeks that saw the Kings go from 12-14 (going 12-9 after an 0-5 start) before stumbling to 15 losses in the next 19 games. So Hield, who never seems to be down, kept smiling and kept with his usual pregame routine before heading to chapel as he always does.
“Stuff like that, they don’t start you and after that everybody says, ‘Oh, he’s the problem,'” Hield said. “You just let everybody know what the fuck is going on. That’s what I’ve been doing and God he knows what I’m doing, I know what I’m capable of doing. “Nobody was saying that when we had a 12-14 record, it was, ‘He’s carrying the team,’ stuff like that. When we start losing, it’s a big problem. It is what it is, I’ve just got to stay confident, stay locked in and be ready and professional. That’s what it is, man. If I’m happy or not happy, I’m not going to show it out on the court. I’m going to go out and play my minutes.”
But the sting felt different in Sacramento, where the Kings have the league’s longest playoff drought (2006), and so many fans who have been airing their grievances on local sports talk radio ever since saw Doncic as their favorite franchise’s savior. And now, here was Joerger adding a bit of salt to the wound. According to two sources who witnessed the interaction, Joerger told Divac, in a passive-aggressive jest, that he had negotiated an in-season trade with the Mavericks that would finally bring Doncic their way. Cue the record scratch. As if this topic wasn’t touchy enough already.
This is key, of course, because it was Fox’s presence that had everything to do with Divac’s decision to pass on Doncic in the first place. With Fox emerging as a unique and dynamic lead-guard, sources say Divac had concerns about Doncic’s ball-dominance and simply believed that Bagley was a better long-term fit alongside Fox.
Jason Jones: De'Aaron Fox: "We want to pick our pace up. We’ve talked about it. We’ve practiced doing those types of things. We just have to translate it. (Walton) wants us to pick the pace up. We just have to be able to do that."
Jason Jones: Buddy Hield on the Kings' 12-22 record: "It’s terrible. The product we put on the floor is not 10 games below .500, we’re way better than that. Obviously we’re not winning games to show that. We’re way better than this and we need to figure it out."
Jason Jones: Buddy Hield on playing faster: "It’s on Fox, it’s on everybody, it’s on everybody man. We have to run with Fox. WE have to encourage getting the ball out quick, pushing the tempo with Fox." Fox said the players have been told to run and it's practiced and preached, not executed
Sean Cunningham: Cory Joseph said Buddy Hield apologized to his Kings team today at practice. Cory wasnt aware of what Buddy said last night
Jason Anderson: Kings coach Luke Walton says Buddy’s comments should have stayed “in house.” He showed “maturity and responsibility” in apologizing to the team.
Hield was asked how the team is holding together in the midst of all its struggles. “I don’t know,” Hield said. “Seems like we’re all over the place — coaches and everybody. Trust issues going on, I guess. Guys stop believing in players. It is what it is. They have who they have playing out there and I just have to be supportive.” Hield was then asked to elaborate on the “trust issues.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I like to be on the court. That’s why I’m on the court, right? I want to make plays, make shots. I feel like I wasn’t trusted the past two games to be on the court.”
Joerger started rookie forward Marvin Bagley III for the second time this season, benched guard Buddy Hield for the final 5:42 and played 12 men in an effort to salvage a critical game in the Western Conference playoff race. These decisions raised interesting and legitimate topics of conversation, but Joerger’s answers — which amounted to 22 syllables in response to the first five questions — didn’t exactly open a window into his thought process. Why did Bagley start? “That was for matchups,” Joerger said.
Hield said it was difficult to sit on the sideline when his team got within four with 3:05 to play in the fourth quarter. “I’m a competitor. I always want to be on the court,” Hield said. “That’s what I do, man. We all make mistakes out there. We aren’t perfect. ... Everybody knows what I can do and everybody knows what I bring to the table. “Yeah, it’s hard. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard to watch. As a player, you want to be out there, but you’ve still got to respect the guys out there, too. ... When I’m doing my thing, they’re out there cheering me on. And when they’re out there, I’m always cheering for them, too.”
Hield seemed to agree with that point. “We all want to win,” Hield said. “We’re all there for the same reason, to win basketball games. If Dave doesn’t think I should have been out there, that’s his decision. I can’t overrule the coach’s decision, but I’ve gotta respect the guys who are out there because they’re my teammates and I love them. When I’m doing my thing, they have my back, so I’ve got to have their back, too.”
Joerger and Hield argued after Hield pulled up for a long 3-pointer instead of running the play Joerger called from the sideline. Joerger addressed the situation for the first time during his pregame news conference before the Kings played the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “I was a little animated at a time when the cameras are really on you and you’re kind of out there,” Joerger said. “That stuff shouldn’t happen out in front of people.”
Joerger got upset with Hield on Thursday after he made a 32-foot 3-pointer to cut Golden State’s lead to three with 19 seconds to play. A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation, told The Sacramento Bee that Joerger was upset because Hield took the shot instead of running the play he called from the sideline. “Why don’t you just coach the f---ing team?” Joerger asked Hield, according to the source. Warriors star Kevin Durant then joined in the discussion, asking Hield: “What’s wrong with your coach? You made a great shot.”
Jason Anderson: Worth noting: Joerger said his exchange with Hield "wasn't about shot selection," but it WAS about Hield not running the play he called. Kind of a distinction without a difference. Anyway, the words you all probably want to hear Joerger say about Buddy: "I love him to death."
A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the altercation, said Joerger was upset because Hield’s shot was not the play he called from the sideline. “Why don’t you just coach the f---ing team?” Joerger said as Hield made his way to the sideline during a dead-ball situation. Joerger and Hield exchanged words for about 40 seconds while Warriors forward Kevin Durant stood nearby listening. “What’s wrong with your coach?” Durant asked Hield. “You made a great shot.”
Jason Anderson: I asked Vlade Divac about The Athletic story tonight regarding his conference call with minority owners. “I just told them about my plan,” he said. The story says you told them to stop meddling and leaking stories. “Yeah, that’s my plan,” he said.
Four years into this job that comes with one of the league’s trickiest landscapes at the ownership level, Divac kept hearing rumblings of discontent from the same group of minority owners who just three years ago had explored ways to wrestle control away from lead owner and chairman, Vivek Ranadive. With his Kings backdrop so much different than before, and with Divac clearly fed up with the internal complaints, he decided to send a strong message on Monday.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Divac held a conference call with 13 members of the team’s executive board, along with Ranadive, and made this much clear: Stop with the meddling, bring an end to the alleged leaks in the media about internal matters, try enjoying the ride while it’s going so well and – cue Michael Jackson, circa 1987 – leave him alone as he tries to continue this turnaround. This was Divac, so roundly ridiculed as a front office executive for so long now, demanding respect.
According to sources, some of the team’s assistant coaches were displeased with the fact that Divac had the contractual paperwork sent their way from via Brandon Williams, who has been accused of being a source for a mid-November Yahoo! Sports story about Joerger’s job security. The divide between Joerger and Williams has never been bridged, with Williams traveling extensively (and intentionally) in the weeks that followed Joerger kicking him out of a late November shoot-around as a way of relieving tensions that remain.
Jason Anderson: Coach Dave Joerger #Kings adversity: "I think that a lot of great organizations, great families and great sports teams can be destroyed from within. I want to make sure we're airtight and solid from the inside, and it's been an opportunity for us to really grab on to each other."
For the Sacramento Kings, the behind-the-scenes battle between coach Dave Joerger and assistant general manager Brandon Williams isn’t going away. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Joerger was uncomfortable with Williams' presence following practice Wednesday, and when the assistant GM showed up for the team’s shootaround Thursday, the Kings coach asked that he be removed from the floor.
According to sources, Williams and Joerger also were on separate pages when it came to free agent targets, which led to additional discord. Whether the relationship can be repaired is unknown, but at this point, there is clear distrust between the two men.
As The Athletic reported on Nov. 19, Joerger has long been of the belief that Kings assistant general manager Brandon Williams would like to replace him as coach and was, in essence, working against him internally. But that story, and the fact that it came at a time when the Kings were off to one of their best starts in more than a decade, have only made matters even worse.
According to sources, Joerger on Thursday asked that Williams not be present for the team’s shoot-around in advance of the Kings’ home game against the Clippers. Williams, who had returned from an extended stretch of travel on Wednesday that had helped avoid these sorts of conflicts, subsequently left the shoot-around with Divac as a result of Joerger’s request. Joerger, the sources say, believes that Williams was the source of the story and is upset with the organization for not levying any discipline against Williams.
Dave Joerger is safe. According to an NBA source, the Kings coach's job never was in jeopardy last week, and he is secure, as general manager Vlade Divac said in a public statement issued during Saturday's game against the Rockets. That isn't a guarantee Joerger will coach out the rest of the season or finish the final year of his contract next season. But it's an assurance that the immediate threat is over.
Jason Anderson: I want to stress that we don't have confirmation, but this has been rumored since the story broke Saturday night. Williams and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports were seen having a lengthy conversation during the Kings-Lakers game Nov. 10.
Jason Anderson: Safe to say there is disagreement within the organization over playing time and rotational decisions -- so that part of the story was true -- but I'll repeat what I said Saturday night: Firing Dave Joerger is not a consideration for the @SacramentoKings right now. Not even close.
Here’s the issue. The Kings brought in Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter during the offseason and still have Garrett Temple on the roster. These are respected vets who can play. These are vets brought in to help a young team, and according to sources, were brought in with the promise of a team aiming to be playoff competitive. But that promise was made to them by Scott Perry, who since left Sacramento and now makes personnel decisions for the New York Knicks. So the direction of the franchise has shifted since Perry left. An organization that brought in veterans aiming to win now is aiming to lose. Not surprisingly, Hill isn’t happy, according to multiple sources And the other veterans can’t be too happy, either. So the Kings have a mess on their hands. I’ve always liked Hill’s game, but when he signed in Sacramento, I questioned the prudence of the Kings bringing him on board when they just drafted De’Aaron Fox, the quicksilver point guard from Kentucky.
Chris Mannix: It was reported last week that the Kings are talking to Sam Hinkie and, in a general sense, they are looking for an executive to put above Vlade Divac. Now, Sacramento came out and inmediately denied that was happenning. They're lying.
“He’s a good dude, man,” Barnes said to ESPN of Cousins. “He’s young and he’s emotional. And I think that’s why we connected because I was a similar way, even though I’m still kind of old and emotional now. All he wants to do is win, and sometimes that gets the best of us. I think he’s judged unfairly, but the league and the world needs bad guys and that’s what we’ve done for them. So we give them the bad guys.”
Barnes understands the Kings had doubts about giving Cousins a $200 million extension in the summer. He gets the business. But throughout his 13-year career that included stops with nine different teams, Barnes said he’s never observed an organization handle a player -- let alone an All-Star player -- in such a deceiving manner. “Nah, never. That was bad. That was a bad way it went down,” Barnes said to ESPN. “But you know, my hat’s off to DeMarcus the way he handled it. To give everything he gave to that franchise and for it to go down the way it went down at the end is a tough pill to swallow. But he stayed professional and said the right things. Even though he may have felt another way, he said the right stuff and that’s all that matters.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 459 more rumors
More HoopsHype Rumors
May 20, 2022 | 8:25 pm EDT Update
May 20, 2022 | 7:27 pm EDT Update

Darvin Ham has made strongest impression in Lakers' coaching search

The Lakers appear poised to make a decision on their coaching position soon, with Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts the finalists for the job that became vacant when Frank Vogel was fired at season’s end. But as the final round of interviews is set, sources tell The Athletic that Ham appears to have made the strongest impression yet.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 98 more rumors
In terms of the Lakers’ preferences, sources say team officials have prioritized a coach who can command respect and authority from the locker room and who has a strong enough presence and voice to manage the varying roles and relationships across the roster. Those characteristics bode well for Ham’s candidacy. Throughout assistant coaching stops with the Lakers, Hawks and Bucks, Ham has been known for his no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players — attributes that have stood out in his communication with the Lakers thus far as well, sources said.