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Drama reportedly continues between Kings’ front office, coach Dave Joerger

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I feel bad for Kings fans. A passionate fan base desperate for a team and players they can get behind finally have that — Sacramento is the biggest positive surprise in the NBA at 10-10. The team has found an identity in pace, De'Aaron Fox is having a breakout season, and this is one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the league.

And yet the Kings’ front office is getting in the way of it all.

Tension in team management — specifically between assistant GM Brandon Williams and coach Dave Joerger — was reported a couple of weeks back. There are different factions within the Sacramento front office, and at the heart of the current dispute is some of them pushing to see rookie Marvin Bagley III used more and see less of 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica (who has started every game and played well, he is part of the reason for the fast start). It’s about the use of veterans vs. developing young players, a tough balancing act for teams around the NBA.

While Vlade Divac released a statement saying the organization has Joerger’s back, the issues have not gone away and popped up at shootaround on Thursday, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic.

According to sources, Joerger on Thursday asked that Williams not be present for the team’s shoot-around in advance of the Kings’ home game against the Clippers. Williams, who had returned from an extended stretch of travel on Wednesday that had helped avoid these sorts of conflicts, subsequently left the shoot-around with Divac as a result of Joerger’s request. Joerger, the sources say, believes that Williams was the source of the [origional report of tension] and is upset with the organization for not levying any discipline against Williams.

A difference of opinion between a coach who wants to win right now and a front office who drafted and is invested in young players, wanting to see them developed, is common around the NBA. Variations of that same issue take place in the teams at the top of the league and the ones at the bottom of the standings. Questions within a front office about whether they have the right coach for the job also happens on almost every team around the league.

What doesn’t happen is it becomes a very public debate. That’s very Kings.

The coach, his agent, GM Vlade Divac, and owner Vivek Ranadive have had a meeting and talked, Amick reports. But that has not calmed everything down. Joerger has a reputation for being a bit paranoid about things, but he’s also a quality coach — his name has to come up in the too early Coach of the Year conversations for how he developed talent and helped the squad find its identity. Up in Sacramento, the fan base is completely behind the coach.

The Kings do not have their first round pick this coming draft, they have no incentive to play the young stars and tank. After this fast start, they should be trying to win. If they fade over time, priorities can change, but this feels like a time to trust the coach and go hard for wins. Of course, with the Kings things never seem that simple.

 

 

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.