- 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.”
APRIL 15: The Kings have officially hired Walton as their new head coach, the team announced today in a press release.
“I have known Luke for many years and I am so excited to welcome him and his family to the Sacramento Kings,” Divac said in a statement. “I look forward to his leadership on the court as we work to build a winning culture for many years to come.”
APRIL 13: The Kings will hire Luke Walton as their next head coach, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento. Walton and the Kings have agreed on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Sources tell Cunningham that the search moved quickly because of GM Vlade Divac’s fondness for Walton, whom he wanted to hire in 2016. Other candidates for the job were told they would only get an opportunity if negotiations with Walton fall through, per Amick (Twitter link).
Sacramento’s front office asked Walton to interview with them yesterday and was reportedly also seeking permission to talk with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. Walton compiled a 98-148 mark in three seasons with the Lakers before mutually agreeing to part ways with the organization.
The Kings are about to hire their seventh head coach of the decade after their surprising decision to fire Dave Joerger on Thursday. Joerger won 98 games in three seasons and had Sacramento in the playoff race for most of the year. The team’s 39-43 record under Joerger in 2018/19 was its best mark since the 2005/06 season.
Walton has spent the last three seasons as the Lakers’ head coach, compiling a 98-148 (.398) overall mark with the franchise. Walton technically improved his record every year as the Lakers’ coach, winning 26, 35, and 37 games in his three seasons. However, this season’s squad, hit hard by injuries and negatively impacted by the midseason Anthony Davis trade-rumor saga, fell well short of expectations following last summer’s acquisition of LeBron James.
The Lakers’ underachievement resulted in Walton’s ouster this week, even with Magic Johnson no longer running the show in Los Angeles. However, it didn’t take the former Warriors assistant long to find a new head coaching job.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
So far this spring, we have yet to see the sort of NBA head coaching turnover we got a year ago, when eight teams made changes. However, a handful of clubs have parted ways – mutually or otherwise – with their head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 regular season.
In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.
Updated 4-16-19 (11:57am CT)
- Out: Larry Drew (story)
- Expected to interview: Juwan Howard (story), Jamahl Mosley (story), Alex Jensen (story), David Vanterpool (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Jordi Fernandez (story), Nate Tibbetts (story), Wes Unseld Jr. (story), Darvin Ham (story)
- Although Drew did an admirable job in difficult circumstances with the Cavaliers in 2018/19 after taking over for Tyronn Lue six games into the season, he never seemed to want the job on a permanent basis. He and the Cavs agreed to part ways at season’s end, and the team is now exploring the NBA assistant and college ranks in the hopes of hiring a coach with a strong background in player development.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Out: Luke Walton (story)
- Expected to interview: Tyronn Lue (story), Monty Williams (story), Juwan Howard (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Mark Jackson (story)
- Even after Magic Johnson‘s resignation as president of basketball operations, the Lakers decided to make a head coaching change. General manager Rob Pelinka is running the search for Walton’s replacement in the absence of a president of basketball ops.
- Out: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
- Rumored candidates or targets: None
- The Grizzlies‘ front office is in a state of upheaval as well, as veteran general manager Chris Wallace was re-assigned to the scouting department as the same time as Bickerstaff was dismissed. No names have really emerged yet as candidates to replace Bickerstaff, so perhaps Memphis will focus first on finalizing its new-look front office before hiring a new head coach.
- Out: Dave Joerger (story)
- In: Luke Walton (story)
- Also considered: Ettore Messina (story), Monty Williams (story)
- Just two days after they fired Joerger and one day after Walton officially left the Lakers, the Kings reached an agreement to hire Walton as their head coach on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season. The expedited process reflected the fact that Walton was the No. 1 choice on Vlade Divac‘s wish list, as the recently-extended Kings GM wasted no time in going after his top target. Originally hired by the Lakers to focus on developing their young prospects, Walton should be tasked with a similar role in Sacramento.
- 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.
- 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.
Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:
Klay Thompson, Warriors, 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $69MM deal in 2015
The smart money has Kevin Durant signing elsewhere this summer, which makes it more imperative for Golden State to keep its dynamic backcourt intact. The Warriors would probably have to max out Thompson at $190MM over five years and ownership appears willing to do so. If not, rivals with ample cap space would certainly give him a four-year, $140MM deal, the max they could offer. In any case, Thompson won’t have to take a discount the way the market figures to play out. Even in a somewhat down year by his standards, he still had the sixth-most 3-point makes in the NBA.
Reggie Bullock, Lakers, 28, SG (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2017
The cap-strapped Pistons figured they couldn’t re-sign Bullock, so they traded him to the Lakers for a couple of assets. He was Detroit’s most reliable wing player but things didn’t go well for him in L.A. He never got into a shooting rhythm with the Lakers, as the career 39.2% long-range gunner made just 34.3% of his 3-point shots. Bullock’s price tag might have gone down somewhat, though he should still field some multi-year offers. He might even return to Detroit, where he played four seasons, if the Pistons can fit him into their budget.
Rodney McGruder, Clippers, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder finished his season in the Clippers organization, though he’s ineligible for the playoffs. Miami put him on waivers to get under the luxury tax and the Clippers claimed him. The Clippers gained control of his Early Bird rights and can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $3MM qualifying offer. It seems that McGruder might benefit from Miami’s surprising move, as he could claim a rotation role with his new club depending upon how well they do in free agency. If they choose not to give him a QO, he should be able to secure a contract on the open market befitting a second-unit player.
Jamal Crawford, Suns, 39, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
How crazy is this? Crawford entered the league in 2000, the same year Zion Williamson was born. They could be teammates next season. That’s if Crawford decides re-sign with Phoenix. He wants to play at least another year and why not? This week, Crawford became the oldest player in NBA history to record a 50-point game. Crawford appeared in 64 games with Phoenix after playing a minimum of 79 the previous three years. He’ll be providing offense off the bench somewhere next season, a tribute to his preparation, perseverance and durability.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, C (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
Cauley-Stein said prior to the season he was “ready to get paid” after his walk year. He started all but one game this season for Sacramento but didn’t really enhance his value. He’s not a shot-blocker. He doesn’t rebound particularly well for his size. He can’t shoot free throws, nor does he pose much of an offensive threat. The Kings can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $6.25MM qualifying offer but even that’s not a given. Cauley-Stein will certainly get a raise compared to his rookie deal but it probably won’t be what he expected.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.
The Lakers and head coach Luke Walton have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced today in a press release.
“I want to thank (team owner) Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” Walton said in a statement. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”
It has been a wild week for Walton, who was viewed as a dead man walking for the last several weeks of the 2018/19 season. Widely expected to be fired at season’s end, Walton appeared to get a second life when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson abruptly announced his resignation on Tuesday night.
With Johnson out of the picture, in part because he decided he didn’t want the responsibility of firing Walton, there was a sense that the head coach might stick around to help provide some stability in a period of upheaval for the franchise — particularly since Buss was said to be a big fan of Walton.
However, it appears the Lakers will be in the market for a new head coach after all, having become the fourth team to announce a head coaching change in the last two days, joining Sacramento, Memphis, and Cleveland.
Two of those teams, the Kings and Cavaliers, have previously been cited as potential landing spots for Walton, assuming he opts to continue his head coaching career right away after three up-and-down season in Los Angeles. According to Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter), Kings GM Vlade Divac views Walton as a top candidate to replace Dave Joerger, and is expected to reach out to him soon.
Walton technically improved his record every year as the Lakers’ coach, winning 26, 35, and 37 games to finish with an overall mark of 98-148 (.398). However, this season’s squad, hit hard by injuries and negatively impacted by the midseason Anthony Davis trade-rumor saga, fell well short of expectations following last summer’s acquisition of LeBron James.
It’s not clear if the Lakers intend to bring in a top-level executive to replace Johnson in their front office. Typically in this situation, a new head of basketball operations would be given the opportunity to hand-pick his own head coach, but it appears as if the team already has its eye on a pair of head coaching candidates
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that the Lakers’ coaching search is expected to focus on former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue and former Pelicans head coach Monty Williams. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports mentioned those two candidates earlier this week, noting that former Warriors coach Mark Jackson was also on L.A.’s list.
Lue, of course, has experience coaching James in Cleveland, while Williams has worked with LeBron on Team USA.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.
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.
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.
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.