Kings

'I bled purple:' Dave Joerger talks Kings tenure on Grant Napear show

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USATSI

'I bled purple:' Dave Joerger talks Kings tenure on Grant Napear show

SACRAMENTO -- Instead of hiding in a bunker for the next few weeks and letting things blow over, former Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger called into the Grant Napear show Friday evening to say goodbye. In a wide-ranging interview, Joerger had plenty of positives to say about his time in the Capital City.

“Coaches come and go,” Joerger told Napear. “My dream was to get the Sacramento Kings into the playoffs and I’m looking forward to that group making the playoffs in the near future and that will make me feel as good as anything ever.”

Joerger sidestepped controversy, refused to throw anyone under the bus and gave plenty of praise to Vlade Divac, his former players, and Kings fans.  

“Vlade and I had a great relationship and we’ll always have a great relationship,” Joerger said. “You never know when your paths will cross in this business again.”

According to Joerger, he heard about his potential firing early on Thursday as it started to break. Before that time, he was mostly in the dark.

When asked if he had any regrets from his time in Sacramento, Joerger again chose the high road.

“I don’t think so, as it sets in you’re going to take stock of little things that maybe came up and could I have handled that better,” Joerger said.

He chose a very specific path this season with his young roster. Even during the worst of the team’s losses, Joerger tried to keep a level head and avoid the negative.

“Always looking at the positive, especially with a young team,” Joerger said of his approach. “You go in there and be negative and hit them over the head every single day, I don’t think we would have seen the growth that we would have otherwise had.”

There is no question the Kings’ young roster improved under Joerger and his staff. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield had breakout seasons and rookies Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles made significant strides as the season progressed.

Joerger’s decision to bring Bagley off the bench for most of the season has been one of the most debated issues surrounding the former coach. He addressed that situation with Napear as well.

"I just think the sky's the limit with Marvin,” Joerger said of the 20-year-old big. “He's going to be an All-Star, without a doubt and I don't know how many years that's going to take. But I thought it was what was best for our team and for a guy to go in there and earn the respect of his teammates. Nothing was given to him.”

Bagley finished the season well, but he started just four of a possible 62 games for the Kings. Joerger used veteran Nemanja Bjelica as his starter at the power forward position to help space the floor. It was a decision that didn’t always sit well with management in Sacramento and likely played a role in his dismissal.

Joerger was the 17th head coach in the Sacramento-era of Kings basketball. He took over a veteran squad in year one and watched as injuries and trades decimated the roster. He took on a completely different roster in year two, including five rookies and 10 players on rookie scale deals.

In year three, Joerger pushed his young core to the best record in over a decade in Sacramento, finishing the year 39-43. He had his team in playoff contention until a series of close losses took the wind out of their sails late in the season.

As for the fans, Joerger praised his experience in Sacramento.

“I bled purple, there is no doubt,” Joerger told Napear. “That will always run deep for me.”

“I see why Rick Adelman gave everything he had and how much he loved it here,” Joerger added. “Certainly I was hoping to try to bring that level of success to Sacramento, but I’m extremely thankful for the relationships that I’ve built.”

[RELATED: Kings interested in Luke Walton for coach vacancy]

After nine seasons in Memphis, Joerger came to the Kings with high hopes. He succeeded in developing players and putting the team back on the right path after years of chaos and dysfunction.

He won’t get an opportunity to see the rebuild to its completion, but there is no question he left the Sacramento Kings franchise in a better position than they were in three seasons ago when he took over at the helm.

Kings already back at team's practice facility early in NBA offseason

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USATSI

Kings already back at team's practice facility early in NBA offseason

SACRAMENTO -- The bounce of a ball is a siren's call for true hoopers. With the offseason fewer than six weeks old, Kings players have already descended on the team’s practice facility floor.

A few players took a quick break before jumping right back into the action. But, with the NBA draft still a month away, it’s already time to get the band back together.

De’Aaron Fox has been hitting the weight room hard for the last three weeks. He’s ready to back up his sophomore jump with another step forward in year three.

Frank Mason and Willie Cauley-Stein were in the gym shooting jumpers following Thursday’s draft prospect workout. Mason is getting a fresh start with a new head coach. The team has a third-year option on the former second round pick that becomes guaranteed in October, so he’s not wasting any time auditioning for Luke Walton and the Kings brass.

Cauley-Stein is a King until he’s not. The 25-year-old big can become a restricted free agent on June 30. It is unknown at this time if general manager Vlade Divac will extend a $6 million qualifying offer to the team’s starting center and make him an RFA, or if they will allow him to walk away for nothing.

Harry Giles continues to rehab his quad, and he’s getting stronger. He’s trying to show that he is part of the young core moving forward and he needs to bulk up if he’s going to play primarily at the center position.

After a quick trip to India with the NBA, Harrison Barnes is also back in Sacramento. The veteran forward has a player option for next season at $25 million that he’s likely to pick up. He has openly talked about the Kings’ trip to play in Mumbai during the preseason and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Nemanja Bjelica has spent time in the gym, too, as has two-way player Wenyen Gabriel. Gabriel finished the season in a walking boot after a foot injury, and he’s just now starting to get up shots. Like most of the young Kings, his focus this summer is on getting stronger -- whether it’s for a second season with the Stockton Kings of the G League or with the parent club.

Stockton head coach Ty Ellis is in town helping run prospect workouts, as is player development coach Bobby Jackson.

Luke Walton is working to fill out his coaching staff and has not been made available to the media. The team has yet to place a timetable on the investigation into sexual assault allegations made against the 39-year-old and they have no plans to comment publicly on the situation until a joint investigation with the NBA is completed.

While no additions to Walton’s staff have been announced, Jesse Mermuys -- who was an assistant with Walton in Los Angeles with the Lakers -- has been at the workouts as well, and is expected to join the staff in Sacramento.

[RELATED: Warriors, Kings games could start earlier in near future]

Assistant general managers Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella, and the team’s scouting staff, have been in attendance for the prospect workouts with Divac in Europe for the EuroLeague Final Four.  

More prospect workouts are expected this week as the Kings continue search for players worthy of the No. 40, 47 and 60 picks in the upcoming draft.  

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

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AP

Tacko Fall highlights six NBA draft prospects to roll through Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Cat stuck in a tree? Smoke alarm battery running low? Need someone to wash the middle of the roof of your car? Tacko Fall has you covered.

Imagine walking through life never needing a step stool and having to watch out for ceiling fans in every room you visit. At 7-foot-7 with an 8-foot-2.25 wingspan, Fall grasps the rim standing flat footed.

One of the largest prospects to ever measure at the NBA combine, the 23-year-old center out of the University of Central Florida dropped by Sacramento as part of the Kings’ fourth six -man work out of the week.

“I feel like teams already have an identity of what I can do, they have seen me a lot,” Fall said. “It’s just me being more consistent with what I do, running up and down the floor, being great defensively and that’s what I can bring to any team.”

Fall put up solid numbers in his four years with the Knights. He finished his senior season averaging 11.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 24.9 minutes per game under head coach Johnny Dawkins.

The giant out of Dekar, Senegal shot an incredible 74.8 percent from the field in his final, collegiate season, although he struggled from the free throw line, knocking down just 36.2 percent from the stripe.

“Big dude, big physical presence,” Duke big man Marques Bolden said. “I kind of knew what to expect coming in today.”

Fall and Bolden faced off in the NCAA tournament, with Duke coming away with a narrow 77-76 victory to advance to the Sweet 16. Fall out performed Bolden in the contest, posting 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Bolden is still deciding whether he will stay in school for another year. He played with both Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley during his time at Duke and there’s a chance he’ll return for his senior year with Coach K.

For the rest of the players at the workout, playing with Fall was a new experience.

“Fun, Fun, I’ve never played with someone 7-7 or 7-6,” Amir Hinton out of Shaw University said. “He’s huge. All you have to do is throw the ball to the rim and he’s going to catch it. I had fun, I enjoyed that.”

Playing at a Division II college, Hinton is a rarity in the workout process. He skipped the AAU experience, instead choosing to earn his stripes as a street baller in Philadelphia. He posted huge numbers at Shaw, earning DII All-American honors while averaging 29.4 points per game for the Bears.

Iowa State’s Nick Weiler-Babb is an experienced player after four seasons at the NCAA level. He’s a big guard that held his own in the Big 12 and he had a unique take on playing against Fall.

“In the league, everybody is tall, everybody is athletic,” guard Iowa State Nick Weiler-Babb said of playing against Fall. “It just gives you a little preview of what you’re going up against. Tacko’s a good player. He’s not clumsy, nothing like that. He knows what he’s doing. He’s good with his feet. It’s good to go against a guy like that.”

Myles Powell from Seton Hall had the honor of following Fall in the media sessions. While the camera guys adjusted their tripods back to normal level, the junior point guard showed a maturity and confidence that you don’t often see during the interview process.

“You’ve never really been around someone that big, let alone on the basketball court with them,” Powell said. “Going through this process, about ready to be in the NBA, it’s always good to get a good body like that on the floor with you.”

After posting 23.1 points per game last season in the Big East, Powell has a huge decision in front of him. With just days to choose whether to return for his senior season or stay in the draft, workouts like the one in Sacramento are extremely important to gain valuable feedback.

Senior Jalen Hudson doesn’t have the option of going back to school before the May 29 deadline. Coming off a rough shooting season at Florida, he was looking to impress NBA scouts with the hopes of continuing his basketball career.

“I’m just trying to show people that I can shoot it really well, that I have confidence that I can really play at this level,” Hudson said. “Obviously numbers are kind of a big thing, but really when you can come in here and show off, that says a lot too.”

[RELATED: How NCAA rules change Kings' evaluation process]

Of all the players that came through Sacramento on Thursday, Fall is the lone player that is listed on some draft boards and even he is expected to go in then late second round.

The Kings have picks No. 40, 47 and 60 to work with and are looking for a few diamonds in the rough. They’ve hosted 24 prospects this week, many of which will return to the college level next season.