The Sixers are hiring Dave Joerger as an assistant coach on Doc Rivers’ staff, a source confirmed Thursday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.
Joerger has six seasons of experience as an NBA head coach, three apiece with the Grizzlies and the Kings. He was fired by Sacramento after going 39-43 in the 2018-19 season, a 12-win improvement on the year prior. Joerger had problems with the Kings’ front office and also reportedly had communication issues with some of the team’s young players.
His best team was the 2014-15 Grizzlies, who won 55 games starting big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and finished second in the NBA in defensive rating.
The 46-year-old Joerger, a reported candidate for the Sixers’ head coaching position at one stage, is regarded for his creativity and acumen as an X's-and-O's coach. He coached in the CBA, IBL and D League before entering the NBA as an assistant with Memphis.
“No one wanted to play Sacramento (in 2018-19),” Rivers said on Wojnarowski’s podcast last year. “He runs great stuff. He really does. Quirky, which makes him even better in some ways.”
Tyronn Lue, Rivers’ lead assistant last season, accepted the Clippers’ head coaching job on Thursday. Sam Cassell, a member of Rivers’ staff for the past six seasons, also interviewed for that role.
While we don't yet know Jorger's role on the Sixers' coaching staff, his reputation as a “quirky” coach is encouraging. The 2019-20 Sixers ranked 14th in offensive rating, with much of the team’s struggles attributable to a low volume of three-point and free throw attempts. They were 22nd in free throw rate, 21st in three-point frequency and 20th in pace as productive offense often appeared labored and dependent on Joel Embiid post-ups. An unconventional approach might be necessary to find solutions to some of those problems.
With the 2018-19 Kings, Joerger shifted to an up-tempo style. Sacramento moved from 30th to third in pace, and De’Aaron Fox placed third in Most Improved Player voting. Rivers said at his introductory press conference that he wants to increase the Sixers’ pace, and one imagines Joerger will be on board with that particular goal.