The Kings are not handling success very well. A schism is widening between head coach Dave Joerger and the front office, and it has now reportedly escalated to the point where Joerger doesn’t even want certain of the team’s front office personnel in the same room with his players.
To recap: Earlier this month Chris Haynes reported that Joerger’s job could be in jeopardy because of a disagreement over the distribution of minutes to the team’s young players. Joerger wants to win basketball games, while “the franchise” would prefer to see the team focus on developing Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles and [gulp] Skal Labissiere. Vlade Divac disputed the report, saying Joerger has the “full support and confidence” of his bosses, but Sam Amick reported that Joerger believes Brandon Williams, Divac’s assistant general manager, is “on the lookout for a new coach to replace him.” The general belief is that Williams is “the franchise” of Haynes’s reporting, if not also the source of the report.
The Kings are hosting the Clippers Thursday night, with a chance to go back above .500 on the season. Williams reportedly returned to the team Wednesday following “an extended stretch of travel,” and was in attendance at Sacramento’s Thursday shoot-around. Joerger, who reportedly pins blame for the Yahoo report on Williams, wasn’t having it:
According to sources, Joerger on Thursday asked that Williams not be present for the team’s shoot-around in advance of the Kings’ home game against the Clippers. Williams, who had returned from an extended stretch of travel on Wednesday that had helped avoid these sorts of conflicts, subsequently left the shoot-around with Divac as a result of Joerger’s request.
Joerger is reportedly pissed at the Kings for not disciplining Williams for the Yahoo report, and “intended to send a message to his players about their team’s unity and the need to fight for yourself in this NBA business.” The Kings are off to a relatively great start. For the first time in years they’re worth staying up to watch on a Thursday night. They’ve got building blocks and they play a telegenic brand of basketball, and they’ve got a terrific X’s and O’s coach pushing them in the right direction. And the whole thing is getting rattled and destabilized by an embarrassing intra-organizational beef that is turning their basketball operations into a turf war. What a strange thing.