Dave Joerger

Coaching Rumors: Rivers, Joerger, Clifford, Magic

With the 2017/18 season now in the books for the Clippers, Doc Rivers has one year remaining on his contract with the team and sounded uncertain before Wednesday’s finale about what exactly his future holds.

“I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean that you keep doing it every year, do you know what I mean?” Rivers said, per Elliott Teaford of The Daily Breeze. “I can’t even answer the question. I love where we’re at as a franchise. I will say that. I would honestly say that a year ago I don’t know if I would have had that same feeling. So, we’ll see.”

Despite Rivers’ uncertainty, he’s expected to return to his job next season, league sources tell David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). We’re not even 12 hours into the 2018 offseason, so it’s possible the outlook for Rivers and the Clippers could change once the two sides formally meet, but based on Aldridge’s report, it doesn’t sound like the franchise is eager to move on from the veteran head coach.

According to Aldridge, Dave Joerger is also expected to return to his position as the Kings‘ head coach next season.

Here are a few more coaching notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Hornets head coach Steve Clifford will meet with new president and GM Mitch Kupchak on Friday in Charlotte, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. According to Mannix, Clifford figures to push for a decision on his status, since he’s highly regarded in coaching circles and could draw interest for other openings around the NBA if Charlotte lets him go.
  • Mannix also weighs in on the newly-opened Magic job, tweeting that Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov could be a dark horse candidate to replace Frank Vogel. Current Orlando GM John Hammond helped bring Kokoskov to the NBA, Mannix notes.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders relays what he has heard on head coaching situations around the NBA. Besides examining the five teams without a permanent coach in place, Kyler also takes a look at the Hawks, Hornets, Pistons, and Clippers.

California Notes: Ball, Lillard, Joerger, Sampson

For the second time this season, the Lakers were visibly upset with Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. Head coach Luke Walton said that Murray’s trash talk was “disrespectful” and several Lakers players were just as critical, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes.

In particular, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball said the Lakers did not forget Murray’s antics from Dec. 2 when he forcefully dribbled past Ball late in the game. Ball’s teammate Julius Randle fouled Murray as a sign of frustration.

“We remembered it,” Ball said. “It’s a punk move. But like I said, we’re not going to get into it. [Murray will] do whatever he’s going to do.”

This is an out of character statement from Ball, who is normally even-tempered and speaks highly of his opponent. However, with two separate incidents with Murray in the last three months, it’s clear that Ball and the Lakers agree that Murray’s antics are out of line.

“Like I said, he going to do the circus stuff — I’m not feeding into it,” Ball said.

Check out other news from California’s teams:

  • California native Damian Lillard lit up the Staples Center earlier this week, scoring 39 points in a victory over the Lakers. He will not be a free agent until 2021, so the possibility of the Lakers trying to lure Lillard to Los Angeles is far away and far-fetched. However, Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register writes that Lillard’s performance is indicative of how having superstars on the roster change the entire dynamic of a team.
  • When the Kings hired Dave Joerger as head coach, he was 53 wins shy of 200 for his career. It has taken him nearly two full seasons to reach the milestone; the Kings have not played well and their roster has generally been underwhelming. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays that Joerger hopes to continue building something with the Sacramento.
  • JaKarr Sampson has bounced between the G League and the Kings as a two-way player this season. Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee profiled Sampson, who still lives with his mother, earns a modest $75K salary and hopes to latch on the Kings full-time. By his own words and that of his peers, Sampson’s energy has made him a favorite with the Kings organization and its fans.
  • The Kings have not made the postseason in over a decade as the organization tries to figure out a path to compete. Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders examines the steps the team can take to improve and eventually compete for the postseason.

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Kings, Ballmer, Pachulia

Suns center Tyson Chandler is unsure when he’ll be able to play again because of a neck injury, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Chandler has missed five of the last six games due to swelling in a neck joint. That swelling has caused his neck to spasm and even lock up, Chandler told Bordow. “Coming back from the All-Star break I was looking forward to playing really well down the stretch,” Chandler said. “So it’s disappointing coming back having to deal with this.” The Suns miss Chandler’s leadership when he’s out, Bordow writes in a separate piece, noting the Suns are 5-25 when either he or Devin Booker doesn’t play.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The fact that Kings coach Dave Joerger has agreed to a 10- or 11-man rotation shows that he has a good working relationship with GM Vlade Divac, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in a mailbag column. Joerger had been asked to expand the rotation to get more minutes for his younger players, even though he’d probably prefer a shorter rotation, Jones continues. Divac also consults with Joerger on when to send players to the G League, Jones adds.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t believe in tanking despite the team trading away Blake Griffin to the Pistons late last month. Ballmer made the statement at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and the quotes were relayed by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. “I think bottoming out is a dangerous game,” Ballmer said. “If you have to play it, maybe you have to play it. Then again, superstars don’t want to go to teams that look like absolute losers. … In a way you’re being dismissive of your fans by taking that big a step back.”
  • Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was not disciplined by the league for falling onto Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook on Saturday, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Westbrook called Pachulia a dirty player after the incident.

Dave Joerger To Resume Coaching Kings Within Week

After suffering a health scare during Sunday’s game in San Antonio, Kings head coach Dave Joerger has been cleared to return to the team’s sideline, the team announced today in a press release. Joerger is expected to resume coaching the Kings sometime within the next week.

Joerger experienced some light-headedness during the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Spurs and had to take a knee on the sideline. He returned home to Sacramento and underwent a series of precautionary medical evaluations and tests this week, with the results suggesting that he’s in “fine health,” according to the Kings.

Assistant coach Elston Turner will assume interim head coaching duties until Joerger is ready to return, beginning with Tuesday night’s game in New Orleans. Sacramento’s next game will be at home on Friday, so it’s possible Joerger will be good to go for that contest.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, Looney, Bennett

If Austin Rivers is going to silence naysayers who claim his career has been propped up by his head coach father, now is as good an opportunity as any. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times spoke with the 25-year-old Clippers guard about life after Chris Paul.

Rivers averaged 12.0 points per game in 74 games for the Clippers last season but drove that up to 16.1 in 29 games as a starter. With Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick  no longer with the squad, he could see a lot more time as a primary scoring option.

Rivers also spoke about the rumor that Paul requested a trade because Doc Rivers, then still the president of basketball operations, refused to trade his son in an effort to bring Carmelo Anthony to the Clippers.

I talked to him after that rumor came out, confronted him about it and he said it wasn’t coming from him or coming from his camp,” Austin said. “So we left it at that.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Although the mission was to get the Kings into the postseason when he signed on with the team, head coach Dave Joerger is comfortable with and committed to the rebuild at hand, too, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Now down to 232 pounds, the lightest he’s been in years, 24-year-old Anthony Bennett is ready to resuscitate his career, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes. The former first-overall pick is on a non-guaranteed deal with the Suns.
  • The Warriors could wait until the deadline to accept Kevon Looney‘s fourth-year option, Anthony Slater of the Athletic writes. The forward has been hard-struck by injuries over the course of the past few years but could finally be ready to show potential.

Kings Extend Vlade Divac, Dave Joerger Through 2019/20

The Kings have extended the contract of general manager Vlade Divac and exercised their fourth-year option on head coach Dave Joerger, the team announced today in a press release. As a result of the moves, both Divac and Joerger will now be under contract with Sacramento through the 2019/20 season.

While neither Divac nor Joerger was expected to be on the hot seat entering the season, the decision to extend their contracts before opening night represents a show of support from the franchise as the Kings kick off their rebuilding process in earnest. Having entered last season intent on making the playoffs, the DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings will head into the season focused more on developing young players and taking incremental steps forward.

Divac, who has been with the Kings since 2015, made some questionable moves and decisions during his first year or two with the franchise, and was widely criticized for the club’s return in the Cousins trade. However, the Cousins package – essentially Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason – looks a little more promising today than it did at the time, and the Kings had a good offseason. Sacramento drafted a potential franchise point guard in De’Aaron Fox and made some solid veteran signings in free agency, picking up George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter.

As for Joerger, in 2016/17 – his first season with the Kings – he led the team to a 32-50 record. Prior to arriving in Sacramento, Joerger had a 147-99 (.598) record in three seasons with the Grizzlies. While the club in Memphis had perennial aspirations of contending, Joerger will be tasked with coaching a different sort of club in Sacramento over the next couple seasons — the Kings’ decision to pick up his 2019/20 option indicates the team believes he’ll be up to the challenge of developing the young players on the roster.

Kings Notes: Joerger, Fox, Giles

With as many as five rookies on board for 2017/18, the only way to gauge head coach Dave Joerger‘s performance as the club’s head coach will be with time.

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that the the 43-year-old bench boss will need to show discipline and patience with his young roster, traits that would have serve him well during his stint as a minor league coach in the G League.

It could be years before Kings fans see just what players like De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson are capable of and that’s never a good thing for coaches at the professional level. As Jones notes, Joerger’s three predecessors didn’t even last two seasons.

Still, there’s been a culture shift in Sacramento and, in addition to this year’s rookie crop, the roster boasts numerous development projects ranging from 2016/17 mid-season acquisition Buddy Hield to sophomore Greek big man Georgios Papagiannis.

There aren’t many teams who have had nine players in the first or second years of their contract,” Joerger said. “It hasn’t been done, but you have to give them time and keep our expectations that guys go out and compete hard every night and they get better everyday in practice.”

There’s more from the Kings:

  • When fifth-overall pick De’Aaron Fox goes to work with his new Kings teammates he’ll do so with one big advantage; he actually knows his fellow rookies well already. Fox spoke with the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones in a recent media scrum.
  • It didn’t take long for the basketball world to notice that the Kings brought home a good haul from the NBA Draft and, unsurprisingly, general manager Vlade Divac is happy with who they got. Divac spoke with the media, including Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee.
  • For better and worse, 20th-overall pick Harry Giles is drawing comparisons to former Kings forward Chris Webber, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes.

Kings Notes: Point Guards, Bogdanovic, Gay

GM Vlade Divac said it’s “too early to say” whether or not the Kings will try to bring back Darren Collison or Ty Lawson next year, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones adds that the team is stocked at many positions, but point guard is not of them.

Lawson had an uninspiring season in Sacramento, scoring 9.9 points per game while dishing out 4.9 assists per night. He made 24 starts for the club. Collison was suspended for the first eight games of the season because of domestic battery charges. He ended up playing in 68 contests for the Kings, averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 assists, and a steal per game. Both veterans will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

Here’s more from Sacramento:

  • Divac said Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights were acquired by the Kings in a 2016 draft night trade, is a “natural shooting guard” and added that the team wants him to come stateside, Jones relays in the same piece. “We would love to have him here. We have his rights, and this summer we’ll talk about it,” Divac said.
  • The Kings added an assistant GM last offseason and they remain open to expanding the front office even further, Jones adds in the same piece. “We’re open, always, to improve,” Divac said. “The team, the front office, everything is always open for improvement. I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but we should be open if something can make you better.”
  • Both Divac and coach Dave Joerger would like Rudy Gay to return to the Kings next season, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 tweets. Gay can become a free agent this summer by turning down a player option in his contract, but he remains undecided on whether or not he will do so.

Western Notes: Galloway, Carraro, Mavs, Gasol

Langston Galloway came to the Kings in the DeMarcus Cousins trade and didn’t get much playing time initially, but he’s finding the court now as the team begins to rest its veterans. Coach Dave Joerger credits the point guard for staying ready even though he wasn’t receiving consistent minutes, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee relays.

“I think he has a survivor mindset. … That mindset that, ‘you know what, when I get my opportunity I’m going to be ready’ and he’s done that,” Joerger said. “He’s practiced hard, he’s worked hard and he’s been ready, keeping himself ready for whatever minutes may come.”

Galloway is making $5.2MM this season and he can become a free agent during the summer if he turns down his $5.434MM player option for the 2017/18 campaign.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro has resigned, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Carraro has been with Los Angeles since 2000.
  • It would be shocking if the Mavericks don’t select a point guard in the upcoming draft, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas currently owns the ninth spot in our Reverse Standings and there should be several point guard prospects worthy of being selected at the top of the draft.
  • Offseason addition Pau Gasol added the 3-pointer to his game and Jeff McDonald of the Express News notes that the big man has made over 54% of his attempts from downtown. That figure, which isn’t likely to decrease severely over the next few games, is by far the best percentage for a 7-footer in NBA history. Gasol has fit in well since coming to the Spurs and he has one more season on his contract after this one.

Pacific Notes: Kings’ Rookies, Booker, Nwaba, Ulis

While the Kings have dropped out of playoff contention, Dave Joerger will still seek to build the talent and IQ of his younger players. As Joerger acknowledged in a recent post-game press conference, ensuring proper player development is a large part of his job.

“Having been there with those guys (in Memphis) I felt a great deal of responsibility to maximize every win that we could get,” Joerger told reporters, including Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “That’s where are these gray hairs popped out. Now the gray hairs are (from) are you playing the right guys with the right group, developing guys, giving them the right experiences?”

Joerger has given valuable playing opportunities to rookies down the stretch; providing Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield, and Georgios Papagiannis with multiple 20+ minute games over the past week.

More from the Pacific…

  • The Suns are tanking “with spirit,” Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com writes. What’s more, Bickley points out Devin Booker‘s 70-point game as proof that he’s Phoenix’s next franchise player. “The Suns should feel blessed,” Bickley wrote. “They’ve lost 60 or more games only once in their storied history, and that was their expansion season in 1968-69. The organization’s commitment to losing is so sturdy and hardcore that they could conceivably end the current season with 60 losses and a 16-game losing streak, and somehow, the season will be perceived as a smashing success.”
  • Lakers rookie David Nwaba will be assigned to the L.A. D-Fenders to boost their D-League playoff run (source: Mark Medina, L.A. Daily News). Nwaba has been a pleasant surprise in Luke Walton‘s rotation, averaging 7.8 points with 5.5 rebounds over his last four games. Nwaba, who appeared in 40 games for the D-Fenders this season, figures to receive a considerable workload during the D-League postseason.
  • The Suns want Tyler Ulis to shoot more, Doug Haller of AZCentral.com writes. Haller relays an amusing anecdote, in which coach Earl Watson shouted “Shoot it!” at Ulis during Tuesday’s match-up with the Hawks. “He’s very talented,” veteran guard Ronnie Price said of Ulis. “He has a chance to have a long career in the league. He has a lot to his game that people are starting to see, so for him, it’s just getting comfortable and keeping him confident. As a team we all trust him. We all know what he’s capable of doing, but we can’t have him second-guessing himself with shots.”