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Joerger prepares for ‘weird’ offseason that begins in April

Kings' Skal Labissiere continues to impress coach Dave Joerger

Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger had high praise for the play of rookie Skal Labissiere in the Kings 135-128 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.
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Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger had high praise for the play of rookie Skal Labissiere in the Kings 135-128 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.

Wednesday’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers is the season finale for the Kings.

This irks Kings coach Dave Joerger.

Prior to becoming Kings coach, Joerger was with Memphis, where the playoffs have become the norm, including the previous three campaigns under Joerger.

For some time, Joerger has known Wednesday would be the final game he coached for the 2016-17 season. The Kings entered Tuesday’s home finale against Phoenix at Golden 1 Center with a 31-49 record.

“It drives me nuts,” Joerger said. “I feel very weird that on April 13th it’s going to be done” before adding that “it gives us more time to analyze and look at some things.”

The Kings will have a lot to analyze with the focus on how the team looked after DeMarcus Cousins was traded during the All-Star break. Next season’s squad could be even younger, too.

Based on the results of next month’s NBA draft lottery, the Kings are likely to have two picks in the top-14 and a high second-round pick. That doesn’t include the possible addition of Bogdan Bodjanovic, the Serbian shooting guard whose draft rights the Kings obtained from Phoenix in a trade during last year’s draft.

In Memphis, Joerger knew how the core of his team would look from season to season. Starting Thursday until July, when free agency begins, the makeup of the team will be largely unsettled.

It drives me nuts. I feel very weird that on April 13th it’s going to be done.

Kings coach Dave Joerger, on the season ending without a playoff berth

That will give Joerger a lot of time to think.

“I’m going to go crazy thinking, man, ‘I want to run this, work on this, and this is going to be great next year,’ ” Joerger said. “But you really don’t know how it looks until all those things come together.”

So Joerger will put together videos with the coaching staff of various lineups, study the analytics from the season and evaluate in other ways.

Until the All-Star break, Joerger wouldn’t have thought about these duties in mid-April. The Kings were just 1 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and were playing their best basketball of the season.

The front office, however, decided trading Cousins and restarting the rebuilding plan was the way to go. That meant playing younger players, a lot more losing and sitting out veterans who might have given the Kings a better chance to win.

Joerger will find ways to fill the time as the playoffs begin this weekend.

“So I just try to keep busy and we’ll get our guys back in here as soon as possible and start getting our hands on them some more and start working on individual things,” Joerger said.

The focus these last 25 games of the season has been improving the young talent, and Joerger is already thinking about how that will work in the offseason.

“It’s the same thing for player development,” Joerger said. “What are we going to run next year? What do we want to be about the next four or five years offensively? Should they be working on those specific skills or do we want general skill development? So that’s what we’re going to be going through.”

Joerger will be working. Just know he doesn’t want to get to get in the habit of knowing his season ends in mid-April.

Kings guard Ty Lawson discusses how he achieved his first career triple-double on Tuesday night during the Kings' 129-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns in their home finale at Golden 1 Center.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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