NBA rumors: Kings firing Dave Joerger?

Adrian Wojnarowski: Vlade Divac is pushing to consolidate his power as Kings top basketball executive, seriously weighing dismissal of coach Dave Joerger, league sources tell ESPN. Divac/Joerger set for meeting today. Joerger led Kings young core to a 39 win season. He has a year left on deal.

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According to the sources, the fate of the Kings’ third-year coach rests solely in Divac’s hands. As part of Divac’s agreement, owner Vivek Ranadive made it clear that the team’s top basketball executive will make the final call on the coach who has one season and approximately $5 million remaining on his current contract. And for all the goodwill that was built up early on this season, when the Kings started 30-26 after so many league insiders believed they’d struggle to win even 20 games, the flailing finish has fueled the notion that the 45-year-old Joerger is in peril.
How confident are you that Dave Joerger receives a long-term contract extension to stay in Sacramento this summer? Sam Amick: @Tony X. I'd call it 65-35 right now, but lots of discussions to be had there.
I feel like I ask this all of the time, but do you have a read on if Joeger will be back next year? Sam Amick: @Taylor C. It's still up in the air.
Jason Anderson: Took a while but I've confirmed through a league source that the Kings are working on contract extensions for Joerger's assistants, signaling the organization's intention to keep this coaching staff in place for at least one more season. Story soon at .
The Kings are on the verge of making a move that would signal the organization’s intention to keep Dave Joerger and his coaching staff in place for at least one more season. A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Bee the team is in the process of picking up options on Joerger’s assistant coaches for the 2019-20 season, which would align their contracts with his. The source was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. An announcement could be made in the coming days. The story was first reported Sunday by the Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Step one of retaining Dave Joerger beyond the 2018-19 season has been triggered by the Sacramento Kings. According multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Vlade Divac and the management team have decided to extend offers to Joerger's coaching staff for the 2019-20 season.
This move by the Kings indicates the organization is committed to Joerger, his staff and their continuing efforts to develop a young team that has exceeded expectations this season. Player development has long been a source of frustration for the Kings, but Joerger’s staff has been credited with helping a number of young players improve, including De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jackson, Bagley and Giles.
So does the organization need to pick sides and someone has to go? That’s not happening as of now. Williams was scouting college talent in Maui last week, not the action of someone on the way out. Nor is Joerger on his way out. Divac has no plans to fire Joerger and the coach has one more season left on his contract.
But with the latest developments it wouldn’t be a shock if Joerger has his eyes on another gig. He’d certainly be viewed sympathetically if the Kings continue to play well amid what is now perceived as a divided front office. Divac would love for all of this to pass and hope winning can be a cure. One of his greatest strengths as a player was his ability to be a unifier and after not making that happen with Karl, he has a chance to forge some harmony this season.
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.
Kings general manager Vlade Divac quickly expressed “full support and confidence” in Joerger, who has implemented an exciting uptempo offense while engineering a dramatic turnaround a season after the team went 27-55. On Monday night, two of the team’s emerging young stars joined the chorus in support of their coach. “You’ve seen the improvement for our team and he’s definitely been a huge help in the way we’re playing this year,” point guard De’Aaron Fox said. Shooting guard Buddy Hield agreed. “I didn’t see no reason why people should talk like that,” Hield said. “We’re doing great. ... You’ve got to give respect where respect is due, and he’s been doing a great job.”
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.
NBC Sports California can confirm another tidbit from Amick’s piece. While Joerger is under contract for next season, the team decided not to extend his assistant coaches' deals this summer. The group that includes Elston Turner, Duane Tichnor, Bob Thornton, Bryan Gates, Jason March, Larry Lewis and Phil Ricci all are in the final year of their contracts.
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.
De’Aaron Fox’s quantum leap and Willie Cauley-Stein’s breakout alone should have earned Joerger and his staff more patience from on high, but sources confirmed Chris Haynes’ report that concerns about insufficient playing time for prized rookie forward Marvin Bagley III and other young prospects have everything to do with this ruckus. There’s this bit of complicated context, too: While Joerger is under contract through next season after having the fourth year of his $15 million deal picked up in Sept. 2017, sources say his assistant coaches are on the final year of their respective deals and, thus, dealing with a second-level sort of lame-duck status.
According to sources, Joerger has believed since last season that Kings assistant general manager Brandon Williams was on the lookout for a new coach to replace him. Yet Joerger, sources say, is not in danger of being fired anytime soon. Divac, the beloved former King whose hiring in March 2015 was supposed to stabilize this wayward ship, offered his support on Saturday in response to the story.
The story, which was posted shortly before tip-off, cited unnamed league sources who said the organization is growing frustrated with Joerger over the allocation of minutes for some of the team’s young players, most notably prized rookie Marvin Bagley III. Members of the Kings’ front office quickly went to work to respond to the story. General manager Vlade Divac issued a brief statement about two hours after the report surfaced. “Dave has our full support and confidence,” Divac said. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”
Joerger was asked to comment on the story following a 132-112 loss to the Rockets at the Toyota Center. James Harden scored 34 points for Houston. Buddy Hield scored 23 points for Sacramento. The Kings have lost four of their last six games after going 6-3 to start the season. “Our focus is with our team and coaching our team and getting better every single night,” Joerger said. “We’ve got young guys mixed with older guys, so, you know, go in there and rally them up. This is a tough five-game stretch for us, so I want to make sure that we stick together (and) grab onto each other.”
Jason Anderson: Choosing what to report is hard sometimes. There are things you know, things you think you know and things you don't know. I'll classify my answer to all the questions I'm getting as something I think I know: Firing Joerger is not a current consideration for the @Sacramento Kings.
The Kings have been one of the surprises of the NBA this season with an 8-7 record, but league sources told Yahoo Sports there is a fundamental disagreement between the two sides: Joerger wants to win now with lower-upside veteran players while the organization is prioritizing developing Bagley and its promising youth.
There is a call from within the franchise for Bagley to receive more minutes, sources said. Bagley — who sources said was projected internally to be among the starting forwards before the season — is critical to the organization’s future. The restructured Kings front office and their recent strategic approach have been lauded by rival executives, a healthy respect that hasn’t been present for some time.
Clay Bailey: Coach Dave Joerger was very up front about reports he is fighting for his job. Said he doesn't think that at all. "I think it's silliness. In our society something is written... and all of a sudden it creates a life of its own from some source."
Geoff Calkins: My sense is Griz will be patient with Dave Joerger. He certainly deserves it. But things can change quickly in NBA.
Marc Stein: Abadi is main shot-caller & driving force behind Jeff Green/Vince Carter moves. More thinly veiled shots at roster last nite from D. Joerger
While a Memphis Commercial Appeal story a couple of weeks ago made it sounds as if Joerger’s job was as safe as anybody’s on this list, there were sentiments even before the team’s rough start that ownership wasn’t completely in love with their head coach. Joerger did push for the Mario Chalmers trade, which for some reason was a catalyst in vaulting the Grizzlies back into contention, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s safe long-term.
A recent article even suggested that Griz coach Dave Joerger is on the hot seat, a candidate to be fired early this season because Memphis has trailed by 20-plus points for 62 minutes over the first six games. The Griz operated from a 20-point deficit for a total of 88 minutes during the entire 2014-15 season. Wallace defended his coach. "When things aren't going well, there's always a lot of noise from the outside," Wallace said. "You can't let it permeate the air you're breathing as a team. You just have to keep your head down and do what you've done in the past to be successful. "I don't see Dave on the hot seat. We're six games into the season. We're struggling right now, but Dave's a proven commodity and he's got a talented staff."
The biggest source of vulnerability for Joerger, of course, is the fact that Pera has internally questioned his leadership in the past and so nearly fired him once before, only to patch things up in a stunning about-face in May 2014 when Joerger, deep in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves, got a new three-year contract. Another potential complication: Pera is known to be a huge fan of Tom Thibodeau, has pursued him before and could be moved to make a run at Thibs before someone else does.
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Ric Bucher: I’ve been assured that this is correct in spite of another report that says it never happened. And that’s as far as I’ll go with that, too. I’m not going to punch down. Ben Simmons was in a group chat with some of the other teams players. And on it, they asked Ben if he was playing in game four. And not only did he not answer, he dropped out of the chat. Now, as I said, there’s another reporter out there who suggested the event never happened. I’m well aware that that reporter has, let’s say he has vested interests in painting things a certain way. And again, I will leave it at that his comments prompted me to go back and double check with my source. And that source insists that it did indeed happen, and explain why someone might report it another way. So I’m sticking with it.
Patrick Beverley is not one to whine about getting moved from one team to another. The Utah Jazz guard recently addressed claims from fans about how the Minnesota Timberwolves “did him wrong when in fact that sentiment goes completely against how he views and interprets his offseason fate. Here’s Patrick Beverley going full Jay-Z, referencing the GOAT’s “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” bar in explaining why he is thankful to the Timberwolves franchise.
Still, Caleb Canales’ decision to leave the NBA and coach in Mexico is not without risk. Broadening his experience on an international stage could help him get back to the league and to the job of his dreams, but his leap of faith could also be ignored. Despite a growing stable of foreign-born superstars and the NBA’s expansion to new markets overseas, the league has been slow to embrace coaches with international experience. European champions like David Blatt and Igor Kokoskov came and went last decade, as did successful foreign-born assistants like Etore Messina. “The coaching side, you always have to be ready to adapt and adjust,” Canales says.
While skepticism may remain in some NBA circles regarding the value of international coaching experience, there’s no doubt the league is putting effort in to diversify its coaching ranks overall. As of the 2022 offseason, half the league is led by Black head coaches. Nash and Kerr were born outside the U.S., and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is Filipino-American. Canales credits the work of David Fogel, executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association, and Karen Marrero, its director of communications, for things improving over the last few seasons. “They’ve been so creative, and they’ve been so willing to help us, as coaches,” he stresses, highlighting the coaching profiles as well as a newly deployed coaches database the NBCA has set up to assist teams in finding and hiring talent outside the same small coaching pool.