Kings deny report that coach Dave Joerger, front office have disconnect


Kings deny report that coach Dave Joerger, front office have disconnect

Rebuilding a culture while winning isn’t enough?

A report from Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes says it might not be for Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger. 

According to Haynes, “There appears to be a substantial disconnect between the Sacramento Kings’ front office and head coach Dave Joerger pertaining to the franchise’s priorities and direction, sources told Yahoo Sports.”

Citing a league source, Haynes writes that the rift between the Kings' front office and Joerger stems from his distribution of minutes. The article specifically points to first-round draft pick Marvin Bagley’s role with the team and, to a lesser extent, Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles through the first 15 games of the season.

During Saturday's Kings-Rockets game, general manager Vlade Divac issued a statement refuting Haynes' report: "Dave has our full support and confidence. We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”

Bagley has yet to start a game, with Joerger choosing to start veteran Nemanja Bjelica over the rookie at power forward. Bjelica signed a three-year, $20.5 million contract with the Kings late in the offseason and has been a pleasant surprise for the team.

The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley was averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game entering Saturday.

The former Duke star has shown signs of high-end potential, but he’s still learning on the defensive end. In Friday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the 19-year-old finished 1 of 3 from the field with seven points and one rebound in 20 minutes of action. 

Fellow rookie Jaren Jackson Jr, whom the Kings passed on in the draft, posted 27 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes as a starter for the Grizzlies.

Sacramento came into Saturday’s matchup with Houston with a surprising 8-7 record on the season. Joerger has relied on Bjelica and Iman Shumpert as the only two Kings veterans receiving consistent playing time. Kosta Koufos is averaging 14 minutes over seven games, and Zach Randolph has yet to suit up for a game this season. 

Joerger had his fourth-year option picked up last summer, and he is under contract next season, but that hasn’t stopped the Kings from making a decision like this in the past.

Michael Malone was let go 24 games into the 2014-15 season after starting the year 11-13. The team was 9-5 at one point, but big man DeMarcus Cousins contracted viral meningitis and missed nine games. Sacramento went 2-7 over the stretch, and Malone was relieved of his duties.

The Kings completely spun out of control. Tyrone Corbin lasted just 28 games at the helm, finishing with a record of 7-21. George Karl took over the team and finished the season 11-19, but the Kings' chemistry and culture was completely destroyed in the chaos.

Sacramento finished the next season at 33-49, and Karl was dismissed shortly afterward with two years remaining on his contract.

Joerger has the Kings playing extremely well. His young group leads the NBA in pace and has defied the oddsmakers at almost every turn this season. 

So, Joerger is winning while developing the club’s young core. Second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox is having a breakout campaign for the Kings, and the improvements of both Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein are nothing short of remarkable. 

The players repeatedly have talked about the positive culture of the team, and they say they love the style of play. Whether that’s enough to keep Joerger in Sacramento has yet to be seen.

Kings rookie Kyle Guy scores his first NBA points in win over Bulls


Kings rookie Kyle Guy scores his first NBA points in win over Bulls

Since being picked No. 55 overall in last year’s NBA draft, Kings two-way guard Kyle Guy has spent most of his season in the G League.

In 23 games down in Stockton, Guy has averaged 20.9 points and 4.4 assists per game. Before Friday night’s win over the Chicago Bulls, Guy had just one shot attempt in an NBA game under his belt, a missed 3-pointer in a Jan. 12 blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Guy came in late during the victory in Chicago, finally adding “scoring in an NBA game” to his resume.

The Kings understandably were excited for Guy, especially forward Harry Giles, who got the assist on the jumper.

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Buddy Hield made sure to secure the game ball after the win, ensuring that his teammate can cherish the memory forever.

As Giles mentioned, Kings fans can look forward to seeing a lot more buckets in the future from Guy.

Buddy Hield embraces bench role, puts Kings on his back in win vs. Bulls


Buddy Hield embraces bench role, puts Kings on his back in win vs. Bulls

Something had to change. The Sacramento Kings were in a tailspin of epic proportions and head coach Luke Walton made the difficult decision to move Buddy Hield out of his starting lineup for Bogdan Bogdanovic.

This wasn’t necessarily a Hield issue and Bogdanovic isn’t the savior that will turn the entire season around, but the chemistry on the floor with the starting unit wasn’t working.

The swap seemed to work early. The spacing was better with Bogdanovic playing alongside De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Dewayne Dedmon.

When Walton went to the bench, Hield instantly took off. There was no hesitation on his 3-point shot and he was active on the defensive side of the ball as well.

“You’ve got to come in, be ready and when coach call your number, go out there and hoop,” Hield told Grant Napear on the NBC Sports California telecast following the Kings’ 98-81 win.

Hield scored a quick 10 points in the first half to help the Kings take a double-digit lead into the intermission. After the break, Chicago’s Zach LaVine caught fire and wiped out the Kings’ lead in the first two minutes of the period.

“Today I was just locked in and more confident,” Hield said. “I’m just trying to be myself and do what I do best, which is score the basketball.”

Walton called a timeout and turned back to Hield and a few reserves to spark the team. Hield once again let it fly from the perimeter and helped his team get some separation.

“When they made that run in the third and we kind of looked like we got shook a little but, Buddy put us on his back and knocked down some big shots and really kind of got us going again,” Walton told media members following the game. “I’m really pleased with him.”

Hield finished the game with 21 points and eight rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. He hit 7-for-12 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

“For him to be all about the team after we took him out of the starting lineup says a lot about him and the group,” Walton added.

Hield had started 126 straight games for the Kings before Friday evening and he’s been the teams leading scorer for the last two seasons. Going to the bench was an unexpected move, but with the team dropping six straight and 14 of their previous 17 games, something had to give.

“He was ready,” Fox told reporters. “He came out, he made shots, he defended well. Everybody was fine with it. He was fine with it. There was nothing big made of it. We all still came to the game ready to play basketball.”

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It will take time for the players to adjust to the new situation. Bogdanovic posted a modest 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He missed some open looks, but his ability to handle the ball took pressure off of Fox for stretches.

The Bulls aren’t exactly a playoff contender, but you play then schedule in front of you. Saramento faces another struggling franchise in the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. There is no word on if Walton will stick with the starting lineup we saw Friday in Chicago, but he can’t really argue with the results.