November 18, 2018, 4:33 pm
For most Kings fans coaching changes, even surprising mid-season ones, are far from unusual. Starting with the abrupt dismissal of Mike Malone in December 2014, the Kings became a franchise defined by their inability to properly handle their head coaching situation.
Dave Joerger may not have been able to lead the team to many wins during his first two years, but he did provide some consistency that the team desperately needed. Following an 8-7 start to the 2018-19 season, replacing Joerger didn’t even seem like a remote possibility.
Despite his recent success, a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports just before the Kings’ game in Houston put the team right back in the middle of an unsavory coaching story:
Yahoo Sources: There’s growing discord between Sacramento Kings and Dave Joerger that could eventually lead to change. https://t.co/THzErzZt8D
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 18, 2018
Replacing Joerger after the team’s better-than-expected start would be a colossal mistake for many different reasons. On the court, a head coaching change could severely impact the development of the team’s young talent, and off the court it would be deflating for a fan base that is finally starting to see the light at the end of a 13-year long tunnel.
One top of that, the biggest impact would probably be to the team’s reputation around the league. Sacramento will always be at a slight disadvantage when looking to hire top talent just by the virtue of being in a smaller market, but the team has put themselves even further behind in the past with foolish decisions. Their recent success has clearly helped change their reputation, but firing Joerger would be throwing out all of the ethos they’ve gained, plus some.
With those notes out of the way, it’s worth pointing out that from the very beginning the report didn’t really make much sense:
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.
This is not a knock on Chris Haynes’ reporting, it’s a knock on the idea that Joerger is prioritizing winning over development. There is an argument to be made that players like Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles and even Marvin Bagley would have seen more time on the floor this season if the Kings were not winning as many games, but the fact is that the Kings have been led to this start by a breakout season from De’Aaron Fox, and improved play from players like Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. Fewer wins to start the season would not have meant less playing time for veterans, it more likely would have been less playing time for some of the team’s most promising young players.
This isn’t to say that the there’s no room to nitpick here. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that the front office has a few small recommendations that they would like to make, but that’s probably true for most teams. If the front office is truly ready to move on from Joerger because of what can only be described as minor disagreements regarding the rotations, then there probably isn’t a coach out there that can provide what they’re looking for.
It’s hard to believe that this is a possibility in the near future, and a statement released by Vlade Divac shortly after the report made it seem even less likely:
From Vlade Divac, General Manager, Sacramento Kings on the Dave Joerger story from earlier today:
“Dave has our full support and confidence. We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”
— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) November 18, 2018
Based on the statement, it would be surprising to see a change in the near future, but the Kings are no strangers to surprising moves. The team has been able to repair some of the damage that’s been done to their reputation over the last few seasons, but in many ways this report represents their first real test. If they can handle this report properly and move past it, they should be able to continue on the promising path that they’ve been on this year, but if they can’t put an end to this soon they run the risk of ending up right back where they started.