Kings fire Head Coach Dave Joerger

The Kings fired the head coach of the most successful season in 13 years. Are they KANGZING again or does Vlade Divac actually know what he’s doing?

The writing was on the wall.

For months, ever since the Yahoo report of discord between Assistant General Manager Brandon Williams and Joerger emerged, the tension was thick. Rumors would crop up here and there. We’d wonder if the minutes allotted to Marvin Bagley III one night were too little and were going to lead to Joerger getting fired. We analyzed every postgame scrum and looked for possible shots at the front office.

But when the Kings were 30-27 at the All-Star break, it seemed almost impossible that the coach would go.

And then the Kings would go 9-16 afterwards, with a handful of mind-boggling losses and fourth quarter collapses. Just last night, on the last game of the season, the Kings blew a 28 point lead to a Portland team that didn’t play it’s entire usual starting lineup. The Kings lost to a Pelicans team that sat Anthony Davis, Jrue Holliday, and Julius Randle a couple weeks prior to that.

There were other bad losses. Losses that maybe cost the team a playoff spot. Marvin Bagley III got hurt at a crucial point in the season and the Kings struggled without him. But even with him, there were games late in the season that this team lost and made you think “how the hell did that even happen?”

The advanced metrics at the halfway point of the season suggested the Kings were due to regress. They outperformed. They had a slightly negative point differential, after all. So them finishing 39-43 isn’t shocking. It’s normal. But the Kings can never be normal. So they didn’t just lose games to elite teams; they lost to garbage teams that weren’t trying to win.

That illustrates a young team learning, right?

Apparently General Manager Vlade Divac thinks it illustrates a team held back by its coach. “I determined,” Divac said in his press conference today, “that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level.”

The optics on this are horrendous: “of course the Kings fire the best head coach they’ve had since Rick Adelman. Of course they kill all their forward momentum. KANGZ GONNA KANGZ.”

Jason Jones’s article at The Athletic paint a picture of a coach who couldn’t communicate well to many of his players. Jones illustrates a portrait of a coach who didn’t believe in Harry Giles III,who might have still had Buddy Hield come off the bench behind Bogdan Bogdanovich if the Serbian wasn’t injured to start the year, and who repeatedly clashed with his bosses.

“The next level is we have a team that’s going to be a playoff team and down the road, a contender,” Divac continued. “We have to believe in them and give them a chance to take advantage of their work and talent.”

With Divac emphasizing belief in the young core, Joerger’s skepticism on Buddy and Bagley must have contributed to his dismissal. Divac, this time, seems to have a vision for the future and isn’t just grasping at straws.

Lakers embattled Head Coach Luke Walton, 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams, and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina are the main names thrown around as Vlade’s favorite candidates. Whether any of them will be upgrades won’t be known until the games start.

Maybe Divac does deserve some belief here. While I think Joerger should have been given another year, it’s at least comforting to know that there is still a vision in place that makes some sense. Divac still wants the Kings to run fast and focus on the core of De’Aaron Fox, Hield, Giles, and Bagley.

It’s not like Kings have a choice. Divac just inked a four year extension, so it’s clear that owner Vivek Ranadive believes in him. Kings fans don’t have a choice anyway, honestly. It’s not like we can run into Vivek’s penthouse with a list of demands.

We’ll just have to see if Vlade’s plan works. It might seem obvious, but all of this can only really be judged by the results.

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