Daunting task awaits Dave Joerger, Kings staff during 2017-18 season


Daunting task awaits Dave Joerger, Kings staff during 2017-18 season

The 2017-18 Sacramento Kings season is just around the corner. Media Day is set for Sept. 25th with training camp beginning the following day at the team’s practice facility. Plenty of players have spent the summer in Sacramento honing their skills, but the real work begins when the entire squad hits the court together.

Dave Joerger and his staff have a daunting task in front of them. Not only will they welcome 10 new faces to an overhauled roster, but five of those players have never stepped foot on an NBA court.

Calling the team youthful is an understatement. Outside of the veteran core of Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Kosta Koufos, Zach Randolph and George Hill, the team is green and lacks experience.

Carter and Randolph played for Joerger in Memphis, which should help. They also boast a combined 35 seasons of NBA experience and can act as player/coaches in certain situations.

Joerger and his staff have five rookies to manage and another four first rounders from last season. He’ll bring back his entire coaching group from the previous campaign - Elston Turner, Brian Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Sacramento also added local product, Phil Ricci, as an assistant player development coach.

It’s a robust and diverse crew with plenty of knowledge. Most of the coaches came with Joerger from Memphis and have long standing relationships. March gained valuable experience with the young core this offseason when coaching the Kings’ Summer League team in Las Vegas.    

Darrick Martin is back for a second season as the frontman for the Reno Bighorns as the team continues to build synergy between the parent club and the G-League. The Kings will rely heavily on Martin as they shuttle players like Georgios Papagiannis and Harry Giles back and forth between Reno and Sacramento.

This is Year One of the rebuild. With a youth movement comes the need for extra staffing and a cohesive approach. At some point, the Kings need to choose a path and stick to it when it comes to coaching. They currently have the infrastructure in place to bring along a young team, but stability is key when building a roster in this fashion.

Sacramento has paid plenty over the last few years for coaches who are no longer employed by the team. Joerger is different than most of their previous hires. He’s coached a high-quality playoff team and has high expectations for his club. He’s also worked his way through the minor leagues and spent six seasons as an NBA assistant. He understands how to develop talent and he’s found success at every level.

Joerger is entering the second of three guaranteed seasons in Sacramento. With a complete franchise reboot, including the trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in February, it’s probably time for the Kings to revisit his fourth-year team option.

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings


Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

Michael Malone won't be on the sideline when his Nuggets take on his former team on Monday night.

The NBA announced Monday afternoon that Malone has been suspended without pay for the game against the Kings.

The suspension stems from Malone "entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official" during Denver's game against the Lakers on Sunday. The incident occurred midway through the second quarter.

Malone was hired as head coach of the Kings prior to the 2013-14 season. He was fired just 24 games into the 2014-15 season.

Coverage of the Nuggets and Kings gets underway at 6:30pm on NBC Sports California and streaming on the NBC Sports App.