Rebuilding a culture while winning isn’t enough?
A report from Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes says it might not be for Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger.
According to Haynes, “There appears to be a substantial disconnect between the Sacramento Kings’ front office and head coach Dave Joerger pertaining to the franchise’s priorities and direction, sources told Yahoo Sports.”
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Citing a league source, Haynes writes that the rift between the Kings' front office and Joerger stems from his distribution of minutes. The article specifically points to first-round draft pick Marvin Bagley’s role with the team and, to a lesser extent, Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles through the first 15 games of the season.
During Saturday's Kings-Rockets game, general manager Vlade Divac issued a statement refuting Haynes' report: "Dave has our full support and confidence. We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”
Bagley has yet to start a game, with Joerger choosing to start veteran Nemanja Bjelica over the rookie at power forward. Bjelica signed a three-year, $20.5 million contract with the Kings late in the offseason and has been a pleasant surprise for the team.
The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley was averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game entering Saturday.
The former Duke star has shown signs of high-end potential, but he’s still learning on the defensive end. In Friday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the 19-year-old finished 1 of 3 from the field with seven points and one rebound in 20 minutes of action.
Fellow rookie Jaren Jackson Jr, whom the Kings passed on in the draft, posted 27 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes as a starter for the Grizzlies.
Sacramento came into Saturday’s matchup with Houston with a surprising 8-7 record on the season. Joerger has relied on Bjelica and Iman Shumpert as the only two Kings veterans receiving consistent playing time. Kosta Koufos is averaging 14 minutes over seven games, and Zach Randolph has yet to suit up for a game this season.
Joerger had his fourth-year option picked up last summer, and he is under contract next season, but that hasn’t stopped the Kings from making a decision like this in the past.
Michael Malone was let go 24 games into the 2014-15 season after starting the year 11-13. The team was 9-5 at one point, but big man DeMarcus Cousins contracted viral meningitis and missed nine games. Sacramento went 2-7 over the stretch, and Malone was relieved of his duties.
The Kings completely spun out of control. Tyrone Corbin lasted just 28 games at the helm, finishing with a record of 7-21. George Karl took over the team and finished the season 11-19, but the Kings' chemistry and culture was completely destroyed in the chaos.
Sacramento finished the next season at 33-49, and Karl was dismissed shortly afterward with two years remaining on his contract.
Joerger has the Kings playing extremely well. His young group leads the NBA in pace and has defied the oddsmakers at almost every turn this season.
So, Joerger is winning while developing the club’s young core. Second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox is having a breakout campaign for the Kings, and the improvements of both Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein are nothing short of remarkable.
The players repeatedly have talked about the positive culture of the team, and they say they love the style of play. Whether that’s enough to keep Joerger in Sacramento has yet to be seen.