We begin this edition of Odds & Ends with the firing of Kings head coach Dave Joerger. The end came for him on Thursday following the team’s final game,a 136-131 loss to Portland that cost the team their 40th win on the season as the team blew a 27-point lead to end the year.
In Joerger’s three seasons in Sacramento,the team was 98-148 and did not make the postseason.
“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to thank Dave for his contributions to our team and I wish him all the best.”
After entering the season with low expectations and many projecting them to be among the league’s worst teams,the Kings were 39-43,nine games out of a playoff spot in a ninth place finish in the Western Conference,their best season since 2006.
Many are confused as to why such a move took place as they have one of the best young cores in the NBA in rising star De’Aaron Fox, leading scorer Buddy Hield and promising power forward Marvin Bagley III.
Having had a couple days to digest this,I see why this didn’t have to happen and why it did. Here’s why it maybe didn’t have to happen: Joerger did a pretty adequate job on leading a young team that nobody expected to do much to bigger heights and seemingly on the brink of a playoff berth in the next season to come. I would’ve been fine with him returning for another year and if he failed to deliver the Kings to the playoffs,then yes,he could be dismissed.
Here’s why it maybe had to happen: There was,of course,the drama and rift between himself and assistant general manager Brandon Williams,who was also let go by Divac on Thursday. As the season went on there seemed to be many communications issues between the coach,the front office,and even players.
In an article by Jason Jones of The Athletic, Joerger had overly-relied on Iman Shumpert,leading to that player being traded,opening the door for Harrison Barnes to come aboard. He also had a disconnect with Bagley,which led the rookie forward to wonder privately if his coach even liked him. Hield and Harry Giles had concerns over Joerger’s performance as head coach and many in the front office found his lineups and rotations questionable,especially since the team had a prime chance to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in 13 seasons that was not capitalized on down the stretch.
A sticking point for me that made me question his decisions were his relationship with Hield, his insistance on continuing to start Nemanja Bjelica at power forward in lieu of Bagley when every other high draft pick in his class was starting on a regular basis,and even giving away the final game against Portland pissed me off. Even his body language in the final interview he gave as coach after the game where he nonchalantly said to reporters “See you next year!”, I kinda had this feeling that something was going to happen with him,and it wasn’t going to be good.
So,who are the candidates the team is looking at to replace Joerger?
Well,we already know that Luke Walton,who was fired by the Lakers on Friday,is their prime candidate. Walton finished with the same record as Joerger did in Sacramento in his three seasons with a 98-148 record and unlike Joerger had high expectations to get his team to the playoffs after signing LeBron James.
Also in the mix are Monty Williams,who is currently the associate head coach of the 76ers and coached the Hornets/Pelicans for five seasons from 2010-15, Ettore Messina,a current assistant coach of the Spurs who is said to be very interested in the job,and Mark Jackson,who coached the Warriors before being dismissed in 2014 when Steve Kerr took over. Another Spurs assistant,Becky Hammon,has also had her name mentioned as a possible candidate.
I personally would love to see Messina have the job. He’s won titles in EuroLeague championships,there are several international players on this team,and I think he deserves a chance to show what he can do in the NBA as a head coach.
Walton to me is a wild card. Why? Because when he was serving as interim coach of the Warriors he was basically gifted a solid team to coach. When he had the Lakers,a team that’s a dumpster fire right now that’s not being put out anytime soon,he wasn’t able to make them any better. Now he did have a very injury depleted squad this year,including James, but by year three,he should’ve had this team playoff ready and was given the parts to make them so. I don’t know that a coach who had the same record as the last one you had in the same time span is worth taking a look at. Now,coaches in the past who have had bad experiences in other destinations had better runs elsewhere (See: Chuck Daly),but I don’t know if that would happen if Walton came to Sacramento. Not to mention I have a feeling we would be hearing from his weird ass dad,Bill,all the time. NO thanks!
Monty Williams has the same problem as Walton,but with more playoff experience. Williams was an okay head coach in New Orleans and with Anthony Davis he should’ve done more with that team. He could have a better go at it the second time around,but I just don’t know that to be true.
One guy I don’t want to see come to Sacramento is Mark Jackson. Why? Because he’s had a history of clashing with the organization he coaches for. If he couldn’t cut it with Golden State,what makes anyone think he can make it in Sacramento? Sure,he has the most playoff experience of any candidate,but is the extra baggage worth it overall? I don’t really think so.
I don’t know who the next coach of the Kings will be,but one thing I hope they do is interview several people. Take your time,see who really would fit in with this team and get them to the playoffs. I do,however,think the next coach has a great opportunity to potentially make something great happen in their tenure with this team.
After the Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year,it seems to me that this team has more problems than the roster not being healthy or good enough to make the postseason,even with LeBron James there. They have a problem with how that organization is run.
What’s the problem? There seems to be an Old Boys Club mentality there. What do I mean by that? They only seem to hire from within the Laker family. From Magic Johnson to Byron Scott to Luke Walton to even Rob Pelinka,the team’s general manager and agent of Kobe Bryant,it seems like they’re only interested in hiring anyone who only has ties to the team,whether they were a legendary player or won a ring with the team or was on the roster of the team at one point.
Sure,Johnson resigned this week and Walton was fired yesterday,but wow,does this team look like one that isn’t being run with people that know what they’re doing. From Jeanne Buss to Pelinka to everyone else in between,this team is adopting anything but a winning culture.
After Walton’s dismissal yesterday,rumours are that the Lakers are interested in yet another former Laker to become their next head coach-Tyronn Lue. Yes,Lue and James have history dating back to Cleveland where they had a ton of success,but honestly,Lue really wasn’t the head coach when they were there, it was really James who was coaching them and Lue was the figurehead coach in title only. To me,that’s just a move you make in order to get LeBron to stay and not ask to be traded,which honestly,he should anyway because of how badly run that team is.
Honestly,it doesn’t matter who coaches this team as long as the lack of a winning culture exists with the organization and honestly,that’s something I never thought I’d say about a storied franchise like the Lakers. Until that culture returns to Lakerland,I expect to see similar,if not worse,results.
Moving on to baseball and while the San Francisco Giants have been playing better as of late,their attendance figures haven’t been what they used to be.
On Monday the team only had 28,000 in “attendance” in the team’s loss to the Padres,a 6-5 San Diego win. I put quotation marks around attendance because I didn’t see 28,000 people in that crowd on TV that night. Was it 22,000? Sure,at best. I think a lot of people wanted to avoid wet and rainy conditions in lieu of going to that game,but in games since then the empty seats on TV continue to be seen. The lone sellout was Opening Day last Friday,since then ticket sales have plummeted. Currently,the team ranks 13th in attendance,averaging more than 31,000 a game,which isn’t bad,but isn’t where it’s been in recent years,which is the top five. Their crossbay rivals,the Oakland A’s,are actually doing better than past years in the attendance category and rank 20th as of press time.
So,why are the Giants not getting fans into the gates other than less than ideal weather? Well,this is a year where the team isn’t expected to do very well and generally fans aren’t going to come around to watch a bad product.
“They have nobody,” said Jerome Brown, a Giants fan who can recall attending games at Seals Stadium in 1959,to the Mercury News, “No recognizable names except for the leftovers we’ve had.”
Brown,like many Giants fans,is not so happy with the team’s direction going forward.
“Going back to last year’s team, the fan base is basically saying we didn’t do anything,” Brown said to the Mercury News. “That’s not to disparage the Longoria trade, and he’s not over the hill, but he would have been a piece to add on to some other pieces if you had them.”
I think Brown hit it on the head,the lack of superstar players who can not only draw fans to the ballpark,but also a lack of firepower from the bats of the current team is going to keep fans away,especially in a time when the league is built on offensive power now.
Ticket prices are dropping,but only time will tell if fans will bite and spend money to watch a team that may be bad this year,not to mention at nearly $20 is the current price for a 22 ounce beer.
If there is one thing working in their favor,the team’s attendance will not drop below 26,000 for the season because that’s how many season tickets were sold whether or not those fans show up on game day.
Is it sad to see the stands not as full as they once were? No question about it. Do I understand it? Yes,I do. The lack of superstar players who can hit a baseball out of the stadium on a regular basis is waning on fans,not to mention the drama in the front office surrounding principal owner Robert Johnson and his support for a racist Senatorial candidate and CEO Larry Baer’s viral marital woes quite possibly turned off a few fans from coming back anytime soon. Lower ticket prices are a start,but for the love of God,make concession prices lower. I’ve eaten cheaper at times at Disneyland. Twenty dollars for a beer is outrageous!
Until they’re a winning club again,they’ll still not draw like they did from 2010-18,that’s just how it is now.
Finally this week, a story that breaks my heart in a couple of ways as Chris Hogan says goodbye to the Patriots and takes his football/lacrosse skills to the Panthers on a one-year deal.
Hogan,31,had three very productive seasons in New England and was apart of three teams that went to the Super Bowl and won two. In his career he has caught 194 passes for 2,610 yards and 18 touchdowns. Now,are those stats glowing? Not exactly,but when you consider what Hogan had to do to get to where he is now,it’s pretty impressive.
Before he was even in Buffalo,Hogan went undrafted out of Monmouth University after excelling at Penn State as a lacrosse player and bounced around from San Francisco to Miami to the New York Giants looking for a home. He was on the practice squads of the latter two teams before making the Bills’ 53-man roster in 2012. He then went to New England and found a place in not only my heart,but other Pats fans’ as well,including my friends Dylan and Aaron,with whom I always referenced Hogan’s lacrosse skills. Aaron even named his fantasy football team in my league this year after Hogan. Chris Hogan’s LAX Pros are my league’s current champions.
I’m sad that he won’t be back in Foxboro to try and help get the Patriots their seventh Super Bowl championship,but I’m happy he’s getting an opportunity with Cam Newton and the Panthers and wish him all the best and thank him for his time with the team,he won’t be forgotten.
That’s all for Odds & Ends,we’ll catch you next time!