There were questions swirling around the Kings as they took the floor to play the Houston Rockets on Saturday night after Yahoo Sports published a story asserting that philosophical differences might lead the organization to part ways with coach Dave Joerger.
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.”
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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.”
Joerger declined to say whether there are philosophical differences within the organization.
“I’m not going to get into that stuff,” he said.
When asked a similar question earlier this season, Joerger said, “Generally those discussions are behind closed doors.”
The Kings will return to Sacramento to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday before going back on the road to face the Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors.
The Kings set out to play an uptempo brand of basketball this season built around the talents of athletic young players such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Bagley. They have succeeded in becoming one of the league leaders in pace after finishing last in that category in 2017-18.
Now, Joerger said, opposing teams are adjusting to the Kings’ new style of play.
“We came out and made a splash early in the season and kind of got everybody’s attention,” Joerger said. “Teams are running back very well against us defensively, and that’s a compliment to our guys. We’re making a mark in this league.”
The Yahoo Sports story suggested that members of the team’s front office want to see Bagley, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, play an even bigger role.
Going into Saturday’s game, Bagley was averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game. He played 27 minutes against the Rockets, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds.