When Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger was hired: ‘Best is in front of us’
The Kings are reportedly ready to negotiate a contract extension with general manager Vlade Divac, but the fate of coach Dave Joerger remains uncertain as the team enters the offseason.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Kings were expected to begin talks with Divac following their season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. The report suggested Joerger is seeking an extension, too, but The Athletic’s Sam Amick told KHTK that Warren LeGarie, Joerger’s agent, said Joerger has not requested an extension yet.
Divac and Joerger both have one year remaining on their respective deals, but neither is likely to enter a lame-duck season without a contract extension in 2019-20. The organization would be more likely to part ways with one or both men if new deals are not reached.
Divac and Joerger played important roles in the team’s dramatic turnaround this season. The Kings extended the NBA’s longest playoff drought to 13 years, but they were vying for their 40th victory Wednesday night after failing to win more than 33 games over the previous 10 seasons.
Divac, a Kings legend who was chosen for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last weekend, has dramatically reshaped the roster since returning to the organization in a front-office role in 2015. Some of his early moves as general manager were criticized, but most worked in the team’s favor, including the decision to trade DeMarcus Cousins in February 2017 and subsequent decisions to draft De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III.
Divac will have several big decisions to make this summer if he remains with the organization, including Joerger’s future. Divac will also decide how to proceed with center Willie Cauley-Stein, who could become a restricted free agent, and forward Harrison Barnes, who has a $25 million player option in the final year of his contract.
Joerger, in his third season as the team’s head coach, implemented an up-tempo system that propelled the Kings into playoff contention this season after years of misery. Joerger and his staff have excelled in terms of player development, but some fans have been critical of lineup decisions and substitution patterns.
Another issue that might be a focal point in exit interviews could be Joerger’s relationship with assistant general manager Brandon Williams. Joerger and Williams clashed early in the season following a Yahoo! Sports report suggesting Joerger’s job could be in jeopardy due to his handling of Bagley, fellow rookie Harry Giles III and other young players.
Williams was widely believed to be a primary source for the Yahoo! Sports story. Two weeks later, there was more controversy when Joerger asked Williams to leave the team’s shoot-around hours before a nationally televised game and a report revealed Joerger believed Williams had been trying to replace him.
In January, the organization offered the team’s assistant coaches one-year extensions to align their contracts with those of Divac and Joerger, but some have not accepted those deals, Divac told The Bee.
Some have speculated Joerger, a native of Minnesota, could be interested in potential head coaching vacancies with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls. Joerger has praised both organizations for assembling talented teams with promising futures. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor would prefer to keep general manager Scott Layden and interim coach Ryan Saunders in place, but the team plans to hire a new president of basketball operations who will help make those decisions.