Vlade Divac

Tension Growing Between Kings, Dave Joerger

The Dave Joerger situation in Sacramento is getting increasingly uncomfortable in his third season, with Joerger requesting that assistant GM Brandon Williams not be present at a team shootaround on Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick. 

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports first reported the team’s tension with Joerger nearly two weeks ago, a sentiment denied by Kings GM Vlade Divac. The report stated that the Kings were unhappy with Joerger’s handling of their young core and the minutes they were receiving, particularly No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley.

“Dave [Joerger] has our full support and confidence,” Divac said at the time, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”

Joerger, according to Amick’s report, believes Williams purposely leaked the false information to Haynes in order to jeopardize his job security. Joerger pushed the Kings to punish Williams, but the organization has yet to take a firm stance on the matter.

Divac attempted to calm the conflict by scheduling a meeting between Joerger, agent Warren LeGarie, owner Vivek Ranadive and himself on November 21, Amick reports, and Joerger left that meeting feeling somewhat satisfied with a belief Williams would be punished. However, in the absence of any punishment, there’s now “an even stronger sense than before” that the Kings aren’t fully behind Joerger, per Amick.

“I have advised my front office and coaching staff to not focus on drama and rumors, but instead to focus on continuing to develop our young and exciting team,” Divac said. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Kings have received praise this season from several coaches and players around the league for revamping their culture since trading DeMarcus Cousins. As Amick wrote, the rift between Williams and Joerger appeared to briefly settle down last week, but its evident the relationship must be repaired for the Kings to continue pushing a healthy atmosphere.

Sacramento has a promising young core of Bagley, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and others, making it imperative that the group receives substantial playing time to develop their skills for the future. Joerger coached the Grizzlies to multiple playoff berths prior to joining the Kings in 2016.

Pacific Notes: Crawford, Green, Kings, Canaan

Jamal Crawford has positively impacted the Suns in his first season with the team, leading the club in the locker room and staying ready on the bench to provide production when called.

Crawford found that opportunity at the end of the team’s game on Friday, with the 38-year-old sinking a clutch game-winner against the Bucks in Milwaukee. His shot inspired the younger Suns players watching from afar.

“Sometimes, going from Point A to Point C is more gratifying than going (from) W to Z,” Crawford said, according to The Athletic’s Gina Mizell. “Seeing the young guys take steps in the right direction, (this is) stuff that can stick with them their whole career. It can be some of the foundation pieces. … When you get wins like this, it kind of cements this and opens their ears even more.”

Crawford, a 19-year NBA vet, was named the NBA’s Teammate of the Year last season. He’s averaged a career-low 13.2 minutes per game this year, but his impact with the team measures far beyond what he’s able to give on the court.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors forward Draymond Green recently underwent an MRI on his right toe, with the results confirming that he sustained a sprain, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Green has missed the team’s last five games.
  • Kings general manager Vlade Divac raved about his team’s early season start, explaining his thoughts to NBC Sports California’s James Ham“I love it,” Divac said. “It’s a team that plays the way that I like and enjoy as a fan. This is basketball — when the whole team is involved in some way. They all share the ball, they cheer for each other, they all move around. Dave [Joerger] is doing a great job.”
  • Isaiah Canaan discussed his gruesome ankle injury from last season with The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, stating he was unsure whether he’d ever return to basketball at the time. “There were a few times I did think my career was over,” Canaan said. “I just didn’t know what type of player I’d be, if I could be the same. But I also looked in the mirror and said, ‘This can’t be it and I’m going to work my a— off to get back.’ So I’m here.” Canaan has appeared in 17 games with the Suns this season, averaging 27.2 minutes per contest.

Latest On Dave Joerger, Kings

Over the weekend, a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports suggested that Dave Joerger and the Kings‘ front office don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on the team’s priorities and direction, potentially putting Joerger’s job in jeopardy. General manager Vlade Divac swiftly issued a statement dismissing the report, suggesting that Joerger has the team’s “full support and confidence.”

Digging into the situation in Sacramento a little deeper today, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports that Joerger is not in danger of being fired anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean that Haynes’ report is “much ado about nothing,” according to Amick, who says there’s a genuine disagreement within the Kings’ ranks about player development.

Haynes wrote on Saturday that Joerger is focused on winning as many games as possible, while team management would like to prioritize the development of young prospects a little more, and Amick’s report seems to confirm that. Sources tell Amick that there’s concern within the organization about insufficient playing time for Marvin Bagley III and other young prospects.

Here’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Although Joerger has another year on his contract beyond the 2018/19 season, his assistants are in the final year of their respective deals, per Amick, who describes the situation as “a second-level sort of lame-duck status.”
  • Joerger has believed since last season that assistant GM Brandon Williams was in the market for a new coach to replace him, sources tell Amick.
  • Amick describes Williams as a “major backer” of Bagley. Conversley, Nemanja Bjelica – the veteran power forward who is currently starting ahead of the club’s No. 2 overall pick – was a “Divac-driven” acquisition during the offseason, per Amick.
  • Now that the Kings have lost three of four games and have failed to deal internally with the possible discord within the organization, Joerger will face an even tougher task as he looks to hold his young team together, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

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.

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

Pacific Rumors: L. Williams, Ball, Divac, Kings

Combo guard Lou Williams hasn’t made any progress with the Clippers regarding an extension, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Williams is enjoying a career year and has an expiring contract that could draw interest from numerous contenders, but it sounds like the veteran wouldn’t mind staying put and reaching an agreement to stay in L.A. “I’m putting everything on the line out here for this organization, and you know the season I’m having I would like to be rewarded for it and just appreciated,” he told Amick.

In other Pacific Division developments:

  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has missed the last four games with a left knee injury and he may remain sidelined during the team’s upcoming five-game road trip, ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk reports. Ball is expected to join the team on the trip, which begins Friday in Chicago. The Lakers are 2-8 in games he’s missed. “Whether he plays or not [on the trip], that all depends on the knee,” coach Luke Walton told reporters. “We are not going to rush him back from a sore knee. Once that gets better, we will get him back on the court.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac‘s job is safe despite the club’s disappointing season, writes The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones. Divac’s contract runs through the 2019/20 season and it wouldn’t do the organization any good to begin another rebuild with a different GM at this point, according to Jones, who adds that the way that next season unfolds will determine if Divac sticks long-term.
  • With the Kings resting veterans and going all-in on their youth movement in the second half, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee takes a closer look at several of the team’s young players, exploring what the team wants to see down the stretch from Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, and others.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Paul, Divac, CP3, Randle

Lonzo Ball looked overmatched during his NBA debut against the Clippers as Patrick Beverley aggressively shut him down. Ball, 19, returned last night to post 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the Lakers‘ win against the Suns. Team president Magic Johnson spoke to USA Today before Ball’s debut and addressed his mindset before the game.

“He’s nervous,” Johnson said. “But he has a demeanor where you don’t know he’s nervous. But tonight, he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

It did not take long for Ball to show a glimpse of why he was one of the most highly-anticipated rookies in recent memory. His near triple-double in the Lakers’ 132-130 win over Phoenix show his potential is off the charts. While one game does not define Ball or what his career will be like, it’s clear that he still has support from Lakers brass and it will stay that way for years to come.

“Last year he was the most efficient college basketball player,” Johnson said. “And now that he’s come to the pros, he’s been — ever since we drafted him — he’s been a great young man, a great teammate. His teammates, they love him. Love him. Those were the things I was looking for (before drafting him).

Check out other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Chris Paul has been mostly silent on why he left the Clippers to play for the Rockets. However, in a recent documentary, Paul said his former team’s “culture” is one reason he left, claiming the team did not do enough to compete with Golden State, Elliot Teaford of The Orange County Register writes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers fired back, saying, “I don’t think you have to try to burn the house down or justify why you left. That’s what I would say to it. I like our culture.”
  • Julius Randle looked lackadaisical on defense and offense in the Lakers’ season-opener, which led to a stern talk from head coach Luke Walton, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. Whether it’s frustration over losing the starting spot or not being in game shape, Randle’s performance on Thursday was alarming.
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee spoke with Kings‘ general manager Vlade Divac, who gave his thoughts on every player on Sacramento’s roster.
  • The Kings hired former WNBA coach and player Jenny Boucek as an assistant player development coach, according to the Associated Press.

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: Fox, Post Draft Grades, Private Jet

The Kings got their man when they selected De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s draft but even if the team had the first pick, the result may have been the same. Per Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 (via Twitter), general manager Vlade Divac said that Sacramento “most likely” would have taken Fox first overall.

“It was a guy that we all loved and in some way,” he said, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. “If we had the No. 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy. De’Aaron is our future.”

The Kentucky guard averaged 16.7 PPG and 4.6 APG in 36 collegiate contests this past season and was rumored to be taken anywhere from second overall to sixth overall. Despite working out for several teams, Fox told FOX Sports’ Aaron Torres that the vibe around the team was special and that he felt his presence could lead to bigger things.

I know they really want a point guard, I know they need one,” Fox said. “They have the young pieces, and in a few years I do think we could be competing for championships.

Here are additional notes surrounding the Kings: