Report: Dave Joerger wanted Luka Doncic over Marvin Bagley III, had disconnect with several Kings

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
5 Comments

Dave Joerger – whom the Kings fired last week – sounded like he wanted Sacramento to draft Luka Doncic over Marvin Bagley III with last year’s No. 2 pick.

Maybe because Joerger actually did.

Jason Jones of The Athletic:

Sources say Joerger also favored drafting Luka Doncic over Bagley

It seems Joerger never got on the same page with Bagley. Or Sacramento rookie Harry Giles.

Jones:

Joerger never seemed to connect with prized rookie Marvin Bagley III, leaving the second overall pick to wonder privately if Joerger even liked him, a source said.

Harry Giles, another player the front office had faith in, couldn’t crack Joerger’s rotation earlier in the season, and sources said Giles was a player the coach did not communicate well with or believe in.

Remember that time Joerger argued with Buddy Hield after the guard made a clutch 3-pointer? Jones:

sources said Hield was bothered by how Joerger undressed him publicly.

Hield had expressed concerns about his role with the Kings last season, and sources said Hield was another player Joerger was not as high on as management was going into this season. Sources also said Joerger would have been in favor of trading Hield before the 2018-19 season.

I suggest reading Jones’ full article for more details of Joerger’s issues in Sacramento.

The key takeaway: Kings general manager Vlade Divac clearly believes in the players he assembled more than Joerger ever did.

And that could have been fine. The coach doesn’t always have to share the exact same perspective as the front office. The coach just must maximize the players he’s given.

And in many ways, Joerger appeared to do that. Under Joerger, Sacramento developed a strong identity of speed. De'Aaron Fox improved at a historically fast rate. Hield improved a lot, too. Even Bagley and Giles progressed through the season as they eased into larger roles. Whatever rifts existed, the team played together. I thought Joerger did one of the very best coaching jobs this season. (He also looks right about Doncic over Bagley.)

That doesn’t mean he was the right coach going forward, though. Just because he kept the team connected enough this season doesn’t mean Joerger would have continued to do so. Fraying was beginning to show.

But Divac definitely puts pressure on himself by, in his first move after a contract extension, firing the coach who just guided the Kings to their best season in 13 years. Divac is not shy about expressing faith in his roster. Firing Joerger is the biggest pronouncement yet.