Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac has fired coach Dave Joerger after the team’s best season since 2005-06, it was announced Thursday.
“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” Divac said in a statement. “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.”
Despite Joerger engineering an improbable 39-win season, Divac is using the muscle of his new contract extension through the 2022-23 season to consolidate power around him, league sources said.
Divac fired assistant general manager Brandon Williams earlier Thursday morning, sources said, and planned to meet with players after firing Joerger.
What makes Joerger’s dismissal confusing to many inside and outside the Kings’ world is simply this: He transformed Sacramento’s style of play into one of the league’s fastest, most exciting brands of basketball, and point guard De’Aaron Fox has developed into one of the NBA’s bright young stars.
Sacramento averaged 114.2 points per game this season, which ranked ninth in the league. It was an increase of 15.4 points after the Kings finished last in the NBA at 98.8 points per game during the 2017-18 season.
Tension between management and Joerger regarding playing time for certain young players and relationship strains impacted Divac’s decision, sources said. Still, most around the NBA believed the team’s rapid improvement under Joerger and significant overperformance based on preseason expectations would have forced the organization to consider a contract extension.
Joerger, who has a 98-148 record without a playoff appearance in his three seasons with the Kings, had one year remaining on his contract. Prior to joining the Kings, he coached the Memphis Grizzlies for three seasons. He has an overall NBA coaching record of 245-247.
The Kings, in announcing Divac’s new four-year deal, praised the GM for helping in the team’s rebuild.
“Vlade has been vital to what we are building here,” owner Vivek Ranadive said in a statement. “Throughout his entire career, Vlade is someone who has always made those around him better, both on and off the court.”