For years, the Sacramento Kings had stability under president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie and head coach Rick Adelman. The two worked in unison, one stuffing the roster with talent and the other managing the players to near perfection.
When Adleman walked away from the Kings following the 2005-06 season it started a revolving door of coaches and eventually front office personnel. Over the last decade Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone, Tyrone Corbin and George Karl have all manned the head coaching position, with none of them lasting more than 171 games coached.
Last season’s coaching search in Sacramento dragged on for weeks, before general manager Vlade Divac and the management team decided on Dave Joerger. On Wednesday morning, the franchise decided to commit to both Divac and Joerger for the long term.
Divac’s contract has been extended through the 2019-20 season and after just a year on the job, Joerger’s fourth year option was picked up. The duo have the next three seasons to right the Kings’ ship which has been well off course since the departure of Adelman.
“We wanted to do this together, I love working with him,” Joerger said. “Whether we got this done or not, I love working with him. Even so, now knowing though that we’re going to be standing shoulder to shoulder for three years for sure, and hopefully we can get this to be a perennial 50-win team.”
The Kings haven’t won 50 games since the 2004-05 season, and since the departure of Adleman, their best season is 38-44. But there is hope that the stability of Divac and Joerger working as a cohesive unit will lead to better days in Sacramento.
“Together with Dave and his staff and the front office and the entire ownership group, we have a vision of where we want to see this franchise in a few years,” Divac said. “I’m so excited we are on the same page and moving forward.”
Joerger took a gamble on Sacramento last season. After three successful seasons in Memphis, he joined a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in a decade. Midway through the year, his star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, was traded to New Orleans and the rebuild of the Kings began in earnest.
According Joerger, he knew that it was possible coming in that the team would take a dramatic new direction. Late in the season he began to refer to the season as “year zero.” Getting that fourth year gives him a true fresh start with this season becoming year one of the rebuild.
“This helps look at the broad strokes, which we would have done anyways, but it really cements the stability and the partnership going forward for the long term,” Joerger said.
Joerger raved about the development of Divac as an executive and he knows that the heavy lifting has now shifted to the coaching staff as they attempt to develop a young and inexperienced roster. Divac also knows that he needs a top notch collaborator in this process as the franchise builds from the ground up.
“Dave is a great partner to be in this,” Divac said. “He’s working so hard and it’s fun to watch him every day, how he can help those guys to improve. I’m so confident that he’s the guy that should be here.”
The Kings have chosen a direction and given both management and coaching staff the backing to move forward. Now the real work begins.