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

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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.

Luke Walton reportedly reaches deal to become Sacramento head coach

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Luke Walton was not out of a job for long.

Officially fired After coming to a “mutual agreement” to leave the Lakers on Friday (it was more of the crossed out part than the official line) Walton met on Saturday with Kings’ GM Vlade Divac and quickly came to terms to take over as the Kings’ head coach.

As noted by Cunningham, Divac had interest three years ago but Walton wanted to return to the Lakers organization. Three years later, rumors of Sacramento’s interest in Walton were floating around NBA circles several weeks ago, before Divac fired coach Dave Joerger (as part of Divac consolidating power) or before Walton was out with the Lakers. This time things were lined up for this to come together quickly.

In basketball terms, this seems a good fit. Walton worked well with the young Lakers a season ago, and he wants to play an uptempo, ball-sharing style that would fit well with De'Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and the rest of the young Kings roster. Walton got the Lakers to play defense, the end of the court the Kings need to work on the most.

The question is can Divac and Walton form a bond and a stable environment for an organization that has been the poster child for disruption and dysfunction for years. The Kings have missed the playoffs for 13 seasons for a reason.

For the first time in a decade, the Kings seem headed in the right direction and Walton can fit with that. If owner Vivek Ranadive and his team can just stay out of the way and Vlade Divac has learned from past mistakes, this team is well positioned for the future.

Kings reportedly reaching out to Luke Walton; Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams in line for Lakers

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Luke Walton is not going to be out of a job long.

This has been brewing longer than people realize. Rumors of Sacramento’s interest in Walton were floating around NBA circles before Kings GM Vlade Divac fired their coach Dave Joerger, but they came to the forefront as soon as Divac pulled the trigger.

Now with Walton out in Los Angeles and his path cleared, Divac will reach out to Walton, as multiple people have reported.

That would be a good hire. Walton worked well with the young Lakers a season ago, and he wants to play an uptempo, ball-sharing style that would fit well with De'Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and the rest of the young Kings roster. The question Walton needs to ask himself is if he trusts that organization.

The rumors are also already flying about the Lakers’ coaching search.

Reports from well before today had the Lakers linked to Tyronn Lue — LeBron James‘ former coach in Cleveland — as a target. Juwan Howard’s name also came up. Then after Walton stepped down Monty Williams’ name came up for the job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The connecting factor between the two men is each have a history with LeBron James. Williams as an assistant coach with USA Basketball, Lue in Cleveland. Williams was the head coach in New Orleans with the then-Hornets and now Pelicans previously.

However, the rumors of the Lakers starting a coaching search leads to a bigger question: Do the Lakers want to hire a coach before hiring a new head of basketball operations?

Traditionally the guy that heads up the basketball side has the final say on the coaching call. Is that going to be current GM Rob Pelinka? He seems to be moving to consolidate power. That may not be a move that has free agents thinking “I want to come to those Lakers.”

As there always seems to be lately, there is more drama to come in Los Angeles.

Kings sign GM Vlade Divac to four-year deal

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Update: Kings release:

Today, the Sacramento Kings announced that the team has extended the contract of General Manager Vlade Divac through the 2022-23 season.

“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,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “I believe our team has what it takes to win and make the playoffs. I want to thank Vivek, the entire Kings organization and the fans for all their support.”

“Vlade has been vital to what we are building here and I am so pleased to announce his extension,” said Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “Throughout his entire career, Vlade is someone who has always made those around him better, both on and off the court. I look forward to our bright future ahead as we work to make Sacramento Proud.”

 

The Kings were the NBA’s most pleasant surprise. Widely expected to be among the league’s worst teams, Sacramento went 39-43 – its best season in years. The Kings played fast and fun. De'Aaron Fox improved like crazy. Buddy Hield broke out. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marvin Bagley III bolstered a young supporting cast.

Rightfully, the person in charge of the roster will get rewarded.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

According to two​ sources with​ knowledge of​ the​ situation,​​ Kings general manager Vlade Divac has agreed to terms on a four-year deal that runs through the 2022-23 season.

According to the sources, the fate of the Kings’ third-year coach rests solely in Divac’s hands. As part of Divac’s agreement, owner Vivek Ranadive made it clear that the team’s top basketball executive will make the final call on the coach who has one season and approximately $5 million remaining on his current contract.

Divac got off to a rough start as an executive. He has seemingly grown into his role and has absolutely put the Kings on the right track. They’re wise to lock him up.

But dysfunction clearly remains within the organization. There’s no other way to explain Dave Joerger, who deserves serious Coach of the Year consideration, not being certain to return. Joerger is caught in a larger divide, though it’s not as if he lacks his own internal squabbles.

Plenty of challenges remain for Divac. The Kings must continue to build without this year’s first-round pick, which he traded in an awful deal earlier in his tenure. Sacramento must handle Harrison Barnes, an in-season addition who didn’t lead to the desired immediate success and holds a $25,102,512 player option for next season. And the Kings must determine who’ll coach them.

But Sacramento finally has a promising collection of young talent. Divac has given himself a strong foundation to build on as he confronts other challenges.

Report: Knicks talked Kristaps Porzingis for De’Aaron Fox trade with Kings last draft

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The Knicks had made their minds up and were considering moving on from Kristaps Porzingis long before this trade deadline (when he was sent to Dallas), they were testing the waters all the way back to last June and the draft.

Last draft, the Sacramento Kings had a decision to make, too: How much did they believe in De'Aaron Fox? As a rookie, Fox had shown flashes and promise, but at No. 2 the Kings could pick Luka Doncic (or even Trae Young) and have gone in another direction.

That led to an interesting story from last June’s draft: The Knicks reached out to the Kings about a possible Porzingis for Fox swap, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN (in a fascinating piece on how this season changed things in Sacramento).

Sacramento moved up in the lottery again — to No. 2 — and faced a pivotal moment: the chance to reorient their team around Luka Doncic. Rivals sensed the dilemma and made offers for Fox — including a template from the New York Knicks centered around Kristaps Porzingis that would have required Sacramento to either send something beyond Fox or take unwanted Knicks salary (or both), sources say.

The Kings might have been able to leverage Doncic fever by trading down, but they wanted a guaranteed chance at Marvin Bagley III. The pick doubled as a vote of confidence in Fox. They didn’t need another ball handler. They wanted a springy big who could run with perhaps the league’s fastest player.

The Kings bet big on Fox. In the short term, that has worked out incredibly well for them, Fox made the kind of leap this season that will earn him a lot of Most Improved Player votes. He found his identity in pace and dragged the Kings with him to maybe the most surprising season of any team (and they were everyone’s league pass favorites). Bagley started to come on the second half of the season as he figured out how to fit his game in the NBA. How it works out long term for both teams remains to be seen, but the Kings have to feel good about how things look now.

Talks like this happen more than fans think — a lot of things are explored, very few become trades. Kings fans should be glad this one didn’t.