Sources: Disagreement over Kings’ direction could lead to coach Dave Joerger’s dismissal
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.
It’s win now vs. development for the future.
Joerger’s handling of 2018 No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III could eventually lead to the coach’s dismissal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Sources said the franchise is growing frustrated with how Joerger is distributing minutes and assigning roles to the team’s young prospects.
The front office views this season as a development year, sources said, but it was still confident that the team would be competitive and grow with Bagley, promising guard De’Aaron Fox, and forwards Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere meaningful minutes.
Joerger, generally regarded as one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the league, has favored playing veteran players over developing youth, especially in crunch time.
Forward Nemanja Bjelica, 30, has started every game at power forward this season, averaging 11.9 points while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. Bagley, 19, hasn’t started a game this season, but is averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds, and shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc in 22.3 minutes per game. His per-36-minute averages are 18.7 points and 8.9 rebounds.
In a 112-104 loss at Memphis on Friday, Bagley played only 20 minutes while Troy Williams, a two-way contract forward the team brought on for depth, played 19 minutes.
On Saturday night, Bagley played 27 minutes and scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 132-112 loss to the Houston Rockets.
“Dave has our full support and confidence,” GM Vlade Divac said in a statement. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”
The decision to build a young, fast, athletic team with Fox at the reins and emerging off-guard Buddy Hield has reignited excitement in the Kings’ fan base. Joerger’s basketball intelligence and the strides he’s made in accelerating the organization’s operation have been recognized but there is concern, sources said.
There is a call from within the franchise for Bagley to receive more minutes, sources said. Bagley — who sources said was projected internally to be among the starting forwards before the season — is critical to the organization’s future.
The restructured Kings front office and their recent strategic approach have been lauded by rival executives — a healthy respect that hasn’t been present for some time.
Labissiere, the 28th pick in the 2016 draft, has only appeared in five games and is averaging a career-low 5.6 minutes. Giles, the 20th pick in the 2017 draft, is seeing just 10 minutes per contest.
There has been frustration from Kings players over inconsistent roles, sources said, and they have grown exasperated by the lack of communication from Joerger about their future and limited minutes.
The Kings are currently on their fifth coach in six years, and Joerger is under contract through the 2019-20 season. Joerger was hired in May 2016 to replace George Karl.
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