Dave Joerger

Pacific Notes: Russell, Evans, Kings, Vogel

As we’ve detailed before, the Timberwolves put on the full-court press in their efforts to recruit D’Angelo Russell during the 2019 free agent period, but the Warriors‘ maximum-salary offer and the opportunity to play alongside Stephen Curry ultimately swayed Russell to Golden State. Discussing that decision with Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report, Russell made it sound as if it didn’t take him long to choose the Dubs once his agent called him to inform him of the max offer.

“I’m like, ‘Why the f–k is you on the phone with me?!'” Russell said. “‘Tell them yes!'”

Of course, his first year in the Bay Area hasn’t played out like he’d hoped, with Curry joining Klay Thompson on the long-term injury list and the Warriors plummeting to the bottom of the Western Conference.

Russell has been linked to the Wolves again as of late, with Minnesota reportedly intensifying its efforts to trade for him. While a deal seems unlikely to happen before the deadline, D-Lo acknowledged that this has been something of a lost season for the Warriors, who are essentially evaluating their roster for 2020/21.

“This whole year is kind of a test of seeing what’s gonna fit, what’s gonna make sense for next year,” Russell told Sepkowitz. “It’s them kind of sitting back, seeing who I am as a teammate and a player, what I bring to the table.”

Here’s more out of the Pacific:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans has been diagnosed with a concussion and a broken nose after taking an elbow to the face on Tuesday, the club announced (Twitter link). It’s not clear how much time Evans will miss, but he’s currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will wear a protective mask when he returns, according to the Warriors.
  • The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft due to concerns about his fit alongside De’Aaron Fox, a decision that some fans in Sacramento have had a hard time moving past, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, former Kings coach Dave Joerger passive-aggressively joked to GM Vlade Divac midway through last season that he’d negotiated a trade with the Mavericks to land Doncic, to which Divac shot back: “Do I get their coach, too?”
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz explores how the perception of Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has changed over the last several months. When Vogel was hired in the spring, he was viewed as a Plan C whose hiring was proof of the franchise’s dysfunction. However, he has helped right the ship in L.A., leading the team to a 33-8 first-half record.

Western Notes: Walton, Chandler, Nuggets, Hardaway

Kings players already feel a closer bond with new coach Luke Walton than they did with previous coach Dave Joerger, Jason Jones of The Athletic reports. Having a coach that would help bring in free agents and make current roster members want to stay in Sacramento is part of the reason why Walton was hired.

“He just comes in, and it’s an instant connection,” Kings guard Buddy Hield told Jones. “He’s played before so he knows that player relationship and now he’s a coach so he knows how to relate to us, so that’s big coming from him.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mentoring Clint Capela is a major reason why the Rockets brought in veteran center Tyson Chandler, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Chandler signed a one-year contract in July. The Rockets want Capela to become an elite defensive presence and anchor and Chandler will help facilitate that process.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon enters the preseason as a starter but Danuel House could make a push for that status, Iko adds in the same piece.
  • The Nuggets have promoted John Beckett from director of player development to full-time assistant coach, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. Ognjen Stojakovic has taken over Beckett’s previous spot, while Boniface N’Dong has been added to the player development staff.
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle believes Tim Hardaway Jr. has been cleared to participate in training camp, Dwain Price of the team’s website tweets. Hardaway met this week with the surgeon that performed the surgery in April on his left tibia and got a positive review. Hardaway’s availability for camp would coincide with the anticipated timetable following the surgery.

Northwest Notes: Kanter, Wolves, Nuggets

While the Trail Blazers and Raptors are underdogs in their respective conference finals, there’s still a chance that the two teams will meet in the NBA Finals. And if that happens, Portland wants to make sure it will have Enes Kanter available in road games.

With that in mind, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter this week to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, requesting that Canada facilitate “safe passage” for Kanter for any potential games in Toronto, per ESPN’s Royce Young.

A vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kanter is no longer welcome in his home country, with Turkish prosecutors reportedly seeking his extradition. Turkey, which previously revoked Kanter’s passport, is said to be seeking an Interpol “red notice” for the Trail Blazers center, whose ability to travel outside of America has become extremely limited.

While it’s unlikely that both Portland and Toronto advance to the NBA Finals, this would be a situation worth keeping an eye on in that scenario.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Within an in-depth look at the Timberwolves‘ newly-launched head coaching search, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reports that the team hadn’t reached out to Dave Joerger about the job, as of Tuesday afternoon. A Minnesota native, Joerger was speculatively linked to the Wolves’ job even before he was dismissed by Sacramento.
  • PJ Washington (Kentucky), Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), and Romeo Langford (Indiana) are among the players who will meet with the Timberwolves this week at the draft combine, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • Matt Schubert of The Denver Post identifies a few players who might be free agent targets for the Nuggets this summer. While Denver will be able to open up some cap room, the team is unlikely to have more than about $18MM available even without Paul Millsap on the books. As such, some of Schubert’s proposed targets – including Khris Middleton – may be long shots.
  • Myles Powell (Seton Hall) has auditioned for the Thunder and has additional workouts on his schedule, sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link).

Western Notes: Cousins, Grizzlies, Divac, Griffin

DeMarcus Cousins suffered a left quad injury during the first quarter of the Warriors’ game against the Clippers on Monday night will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Cousins suffered the non-contact injury while making a steal. If the injury is serious, it would naturally be a major blow to Golden State’s quest for a third straight championship. The Warriors signed Andrew Bogut late in the season and his role would grow if Cousins misses significant time.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies may be more focused on front office hires than filling their head coaching vacancy, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. J.B. Bickerstaff was fired and head of basketball operations Chris Wallace was re-assigned to a scouting position last week. Jason Wexler was promoted to team president and Zach Kleiman was named executive VP of basketball operations. “Trending that way,” Wexler told Cobb about the need to fill out the front office before hiring a coach. “But at the same time, I’m not definitely saying that we’ll have a full front office as we move through the coaching search. There will be a little bit of dual-tracking, but focusing a little bit more heavily on the front office out of the gate.” There’s been no talk yet about potential candidates, as we detail in our Head Coaching Search Tracker.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac hinted at a disconnect between himself and former coach Dave Joerger during Luke Walton‘s introductory press conference on Monday. Divac, who played with Walton on the Lakers 14 seasons ago, commented that he hired someone who was “on the same page” with him. “I think coaching is the toughest job in the NBA,” he told Noel Harris of the Sacramento Bee and other media members. “Having somebody who is behind you to work together, be on the same page and share the same philosophy about the game is definitely going to help both of us.”
  • David Griffin, who was hired over the weekend to run the Pelicans’ front office, received assurances from the franchise that it would bring in reinforcements to its basketball staff, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate reports. The front office, including the scouting department, executive staff and developmental arm, will be expanded. Griffin might still hire a GM and several assistant GM to work beneath him, though he will be the ultimate decision-maker on basketball moves, Kushner adds.

Pacific Notes: Durant, Walton, Beverley, Joerger

Kevin Durant‘s poor temper could prove costly for the Warriors down the stretch of the playoffs, with the two-time NBA Finals MVP already accruing two technical fouls in the first game of the postseason, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports writes.

According to NBA rules, a player will receive a one-game suspension if he reaches seven technical fouls during the playoffs. Durant was one of the league’s leaders with 15 techs during the regular season, often times expressing his displeasure with missed calls or getting into it with opposing players. In Game 1 on Saturday, it was Clippers guard Patrick Beverley who got in Durant’s head, leading to both players being ejected.

“Oh, sure, we took the bait,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant’s ejection, according to Haynes. “[Kevin] took the bait. That’s two technicals. You get seven technicals, your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs. Whether you play four playoff games or 24, seven is the magic number. He’s got four to play with after one game. But that’s what Beverley does. We talked about it for the last couple days. He’s a hell of a defender. He plays hard. Got a lot of respect for him.”

The Warriors are seeking their fourth championship in five years and need Durant’s production, sporting an elite starting lineup that consists of him, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins. The team took a 121-104 victory in Game 1 despite Durant being ejected, though it’s imperative he maintains his composure as the team looks to make a deep playoff run.

“I’ve been playing against Pat Beverley since he was at Arkansas, so I kind of know what he brings,” Durant said. “He’s a Chicago kid, grew up and played in the Chicago area, so those dudes play with a different type of grit, so I can appreciate that about Pat. You know what he’s going to bring to the table, just physicality, the mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality, his talking, everything. That’s what he brings to each team he plays on. That’s his identity, and they support him with the Clippers. For me, I know that coming into the series. I thought it was fun tonight.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Jason Jones of The Athletic examines how new head coach Luke Walton could make the Kings a better team. Walton, who was hired by the team one day after mutually agreeing to leave the Lakers, holds a strong record with several NBA players and officials. He was an assistant on the Warriors’ 2015 championship team, proving his worth as a coach under Steve Kerr and registering interest from multiple teams around the league at the time — including the Kings.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a problem with Patrick Beverley‘s play earlier in the season, eventually leading to a positive turning point for the team, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “Early in the year we struggled with Pat,” coach Doc Rivers said last week, “because he was struggling buying in.” Beverley has since bought in, leading the Clippers at the point guard position and helping the team obtain a 48-34 record on the season.
  • The Kings’ sudden decision to fire head coach Dave Joerger caught him by surprise, agent Warren LeGarie told Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “Obviously, it’s a great disappointment,” LeGarie said as part of a larger statement. “Dave thought, in light of the youth of the team and other challenges, he did a good job, certainly one that other people have recognized around the league. And, more importantly, exceeded expectations.” Joerger spent full three seasons with Sacramento as coach before being dismissed.

Kings To Interview Walton; Messina Also On Their List

The Kings have formally requested an interview with Luke Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers on Friday, and also intend to request permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their vacant head coaching job, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. (Hat tip to USA Today’s Sam Amick).

Walton is reportedly GM Vlade Divac’s leading candidate for the job. Messina was a finalist for the Raptors’ job last season, which wound up going to Nick Nurse. He also met twice with the Bucks’ brass last season before Milwaukee chose Mike Budenholzer.

The Kings fired Dave Joerger on Thursday, even though they improved enough to win 39 games. Sixers assistant Monty Williams is also expected to get a long look from Divac.

The fact that Divac is already lining up interviews suggests he’d like to make the coaching hire quickly.

Kings Fire Head Coach Dave Joerger

12:27pm: The Kings have now fired Joerger, officially announcing the decision in a press release.

“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” Divac said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to thank Dave for his contributions to our team and I wish him all the best.”

11:08am: Kings general manager Vlade Divac is having a face-to-face meeting with head coach Dave Joerger today and intends to fire Joerger during that sitdown, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Kings sign Vlade Divac to contract extension]

It’s a somewhat surprising move, given the success Joerger had with the young Kings this season. The club was in playoff contention through the All-Star break and finished with 39 wins, the most victories a Sacramento team has had since the 2005/06 season. Under Joerger, guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield enjoyed breakout seasons, with young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harry Giles, and Marvin Bagley also showing promise.

However, the Kings slumped at the end of the season, going 9-17 down the stretch and losing some games that they shouldn’t have. Additionally, Joerger reportedly had some tension with the team’s front office throughout the year related to minutes for young players, and notably clashed with assistant GM Brandon Williams. An earlier report from Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link) indicated that Williams won’t be back next season either.

In three total seasons with the Kings, Joerger posted a 98-148 (.398) record, with no playoff appearances. He previously coached the Grizzlies for three years, posting a 147-99 (.598) regular-season mark in Memphis, with a 9-13 record in four playoff series. Joerger had one year remaining on his contract with the Kings.

Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that Divac, with a new contract extension in hand, is “consolidating power” around himself in the Kings’ front office. He’ll presumably take the lead in picking Joerger’s replacement.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), Luke Walton would be a top candidate for Sacramento if the Lakers let him go, though Walton isn’t necessarily a lock to be replaced in L.A. now that Magic Johnson has stepped down. ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter) also identifies Spurs assistant Ettore Messina as a name to watch in Sacramento, while Amick (via Twitter) adds Sixers assistant Monty Williams to the list of potential candidates for the Kings.

As for Joerger, the Minnesota native has frequently been linked to the Timberwolves’ head coaching job, as Lowe notes (via Twitter). However, there’s a belief that Ryan Saunders might hang onto his position with the Wolves — that situation is in flux, as Minnesota seeks a new president of basketball operations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Sign GM Vlade Divac To Extension

10:37am: The Kings have issued a press release officially announcing Divac’s extension through 2022/23.

“It is an exciting time to be in Sacramento and I am honored to continue my work of building towards sustained success for this franchise,” Divac said in a statement. “I believe our team has what it takes to win and make the playoffs. I want to thank (owner) Vivek (Ranadive), the entire Kings organization and the fans for all their support.”

10:29am: Divac is pushing to consolidate his power as the Kings’ top basketball executive and is seriously weighing the possibility of dismissing Joerger, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Woj, Divac and Joerger will have a meeting today.

Meanwhile, Divac is currently meeting with Williams and has decided that the assistant GM won’t be retained for next season, per Amick (Twitter link).

8:21am: The Kings have reached an agreement on a contract extension with general manager Vlade Divac, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, Divac’s new deal will run for four years, keeping him under contract through 2022/23. Previously, his agreement with the team was set to expire in 2020.

Although the Kings couldn’t snap their league-high 13-year playoff drought this spring, the franchise showed promising signs of growth, with second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox and third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield both enjoying career years and exhibiting All-Star potential.

Other young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, and Harry Giles also took steps forward, and Sacramento was able to add forward Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline. All of the Kings’ core players were acquired by Divac’s management group.

With the general manager now locked up to a long-term deal, the focus in Sacramento will now shift to head coach Dave Joerger, whose fate rests “solely in Divac’s hands,” sources tell Amick. Joerger has one year remaining on his own contract.

While the Kings exceeded expectations this season, the team didn’t finish particularly strong, losing 17 of its last 26 games, including a few defeats at the hands of clubs that didn’t seem to be trying too hard to win, Amick notes. Joerger also clashed with assistant GM Brandon Williams earlier in the season. Based on those factors, league insiders don’t view Joerger as a lock to return, per Amick.

Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported that the Kings and Divac were expected to explore an extension at season’s end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings, Vlade Divac Expected To Discuss Extension

The Kings are expected to open contract extension discussions with general manager Vlade Divac following the club’s regular season finale, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Divac’s current deal runs through the 2019/20 season.

Although the Kings couldn’t snap their league-high 13-year playoff drought this spring, the franchise showed promising signs of growth, with second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox and third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield both enjoying career years and flashing All-Star potential.

Other young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, and Harry Giles also took steps forward, and Sacramento was able to add forward Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline.

With the Kings pointed in the right direction, Divac – once a target for constant criticism – deserves much of the credit for the team’s transformation, as all of the core pieces on the current roster were drafted or acquired by his management group.

While Divac appears to be in line for a new deal, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding head coach Dave Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams, Stein tweets. Joerger and Williams reportedly clashed this season, raising questions about whether the duo can coexist going forward.

Joerger’s current contract also expires after the 2019/20 season, and NBA teams rarely ask their head coaches to enter a season on lame-duck deals, so it will be interesting to see if Sacramento also looks to extend Joerger this offseason.

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.