SACRAMENTO -- The NBA coaching world took another casualty Sunday when the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Tom Thibodeau after a chaotic and slow start to the season.
Despite delivering the team’s first playoff appearance in 13 seasons in 2018, the 60-year-old ran into trouble in his dual role as both coach and president of basketball operations for the club -- most notably his handling of the Jimmy Butler situation early in the season.
Rumors already have started to swirl about who will replace Thibs in Minnesota, and one name mentioned is none other than current Kings coach -- and Minnesota native -- Dave Joerger.
In case you don't recall, Joerger interviewed for the Timberwolves job with owner Glen Taylor back in 2014, after his first season as Memphis Grizzlies coach.
Joerger ultimately decided to return to Memphis, where he coached another two seasons before joining the Kings in 2016. The 43-year-old appears happy in his role with the Kings, but like everyone else, he hears the rumors.
“I think all of us will always say that we don’t listen to that stuff, but come on, we do,” Joerger said before the Kings beat the Orlando Magic on Monday night. “You’ll hear things or see things that most of the time aren’t true. And that does affect you, and it does affect your family. But we have a job to do. We all enjoy doing our job and working with our guys. It’s an unfortunate part of the business.”
Following the media session, NBC Sports California had a chance to further the discussion with the Kings coach.
“Obviously I’m a Minnesota kid, so it’s interesting, but at the same time, my focus is right here, right now,” Joerger said. “I mean, we’re having a great time with our guys. We’re watching them grow every day. I feel like I’ve worked my tail off, I know the players have and the coaching staff -- to put us in a position where we have tremendous chemistry.”
[RELATED: Haberstroh: Thibs' firing could bring Fred Hoiberg back to Wolves]
At 20-20, the Kings have an opportunity to finish the first half of the season over the .500 mark for the first time since 2005. They currently sit just outside of the playoff picture, but there is a lot of season left to play.
“We have an identity, and we’re giving ourselves a chance to be in the playoff race,” Joerger told NBC Sports California. “I think every coach and every player, that’s all they ever want in their careers, is an opportunity to be in the playoffs, and that’s really where my mindset is now.”
Sacramento has Joerger under contract for one more season. With the team’s sharp turnaround this season, it’s likely that he could seek an extension this summer or even sooner.