NBA Rumor: Dave Joerger Hot Seat?

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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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

Tom Thibodeau on Grizzlies' radar?

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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June 16, 2021 | 8:43 pm EDT Update