Can Dave Joerger Get Kings Back to NBA Playoffs?
The Sacramento Kings’ stay away from the NBA post-season has lasted over a decade. During that forgettable stretch, they’ve run through eight different head coaches, and on Monday evening, they introduced a ninth.
Per reports, the Kings quickly nabbed Dave Joerger off of the open market after Joerger was recently let go by the Memphis Grizzlies.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) May 9, 2016
Joerger reportedly had grown interested in seeking outside positions and Memphis obliged by firing him soon after. The move came off as a knee-jerk reaction to Joerger possibly wanting out, but with rapid whispers shortly following that Memphis was keen on recently fired Pacers coach Frank Vogel, the swap soon made sense.
As it turns out, both sides may end up getting what they were seeking, as Joerger latches on with a new team and gets financial security in a new four-year, $16 million deal.
The big question, of course, is if Joerger is any better of a fit than the coaches the Kings went through the past two years – George Karl and Michael Malone.
Karl and Malone were just two big names in a long list of coaches who didn’t get ample opportunity to prove they could right a ship that has been at the bottom of the NBA waters since they exited the playoffs in round one of the 2005-2006 season.
It’s tough to know what a good fit with the Kings is anymore. Many could agree that Karl probably was never the right hire, but Malone actually preached defense and seemed to connect with DeMarcus Cousins, yet his stay was cut short after just over one year.
It’s also worth wondering if Sacramento is hell bent on trying to win with star big man DeMarcus Cousins, or if hiring Joerger proves that they’re instead going to build strongly from the ground up, first setting up a sturdy foundation.
If so, Joerger may be their best move in over a decade. In fact, if all goes right, it’s entirely possible Joerger could get through to Cousins, maximize his potential and then convince the rest of the Kings to play together, as well as defense.
Team chemistry and overall defense are two things Joerger has been known for, while he’s also won championships on a variety of levels – three in the CBA, one in the IBA and one in the NBA D-League. Joerger worked his way up once he got to the NBA as an assistant, and finally got his shot in 2013.
Joerger was the head man for the Grizzlies the past three years, getting Memphis to the playoffs each time, with a trip to round two in 2014. Memphis also notched at least 50 wins in his first two seasons at the helm, but twice his teams have endured key injuries and/or player suspensions that held his team back considerably.
No one ever had Memphis confused with a legit championship contender, however. Joerger had the tools and personnel to play great team-first basketball on both ends, but always lacked the offensive upside to seriously challenge the best teams in the Western Conference.
Whether any of that makes him the right pick for the Kings remains to be determined, but what is clear is that Joerger is a winner and preaches the fundamentals of good basketball. All of that are things that have been absent in Sac-town in over a decade and at the very least, they could start to be re-installed come the 2016-17 NBA season.
A one-year turn around isn’t a safe bet, but if Joerger can really dig his claws into the Kings and get through to their star players over the summer, it’s not impossible. One reason for optimism is the talent. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented big men in the league. He added a consistent outside shot last year, is a terror down low, can create his own offense, rebounds on both ends of the court and can even play lockdown defense in the post.
If Boogie buys in, the Kings can start branching out and infecting their roster with confidence and commitment toward betterment.
Exactly what that roster looks like, of course, is a key question. For one, Rajon Rondo is scheduled to hit free agency, and if the Kings are smart, they’ll let his bloated stats go elsewhere. Rondo is a shell of himself as a defender, is a serious free throw liability and creates lulls in the offense due to inefficient shooting.
There is more trouble beyond Rondo, of course, as the Kings seem to be interested in trading small forward Rudy Gay, don’t have a legit answer at power forward and lack top shelf depth.
Joerger and co. have some work to legitimize the Kings over the next few months, but this is a sound hire and proves Sacramento actually could be headed in the right direction. Playoffs aren’t out of the question for next year, however, especially with the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture looking so shaky the past few years.
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