The Sacramento Kings have hired former Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger as their new head coach, the team announced Monday.
Joerger agreed to a four-year, $16 million contract, a person with knowledge of the terms of the deal told USA TODAY Sports. The deal has a team option in the fourth season. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms had not yet been announced.
Joerger, a 42-year-old who rose through the ranks of the NBA Development League before joining the Grizzlies as an assistant in 2007, was fired by Memphis on Saturday in large part because of his interest in this Kings position that he wasted no time in landing. With the dynamic between Joerger and the Grizzlies’ front office clearly fraying over time, it was the second time in three offseasons that Joerger had shown an interest in a position other than the one he held.
The process moved quickly, as Joerger met with the Kings on Sunday. And for once, a Kings organization that has copyrighted chaos in these past few seasons appears to have benefited from another team’s turmoil.
Joerger becomes the Kings’ ninth coach since their last winning coach, Rick Adelman, was shown the door in 2006. And while the Kings did well to land a capable coach, one who led the Grizzlies to a third straight playoff berth this season despite a ridiculous rash of injuries, the prospect of turning it around is, in NBA terms, a Noah’s Ark kind of challenge.
The Kings, whose postseason-less streak is a decade long now, had a 33-49 record last season that hardly told the whole story. The since-fired George Karl and franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins clashed early and often, and president of basketball operations Vlade Divac came close to firing his embattled head coach in early February. From this offseason and beyond, the key question now is whether the Kings continue to try and build around Cousins or perhaps send him packing either this summer or before the Feb. trade deadline.
Still, for Joerger’s purposes, the old adage about how there are only 30 of these jobs certainly applies here. What’s more, the Kings – dysfunction be darned – find themselves at an exciting time in the organization’s history.
They have a new downtown arena set to open in October, a state-of-the-art building deemed the Golden 1 Center that will help mask some of the well-chronicled and mostly self-inflicted bruises. Joerger, whose wife is a horse lover who competes in the kind of barrel racing that can be found in their new Northern California parts, has his hands full with this team.
Joerger had a 147-99 record during his tenure with the Grizzlies and never failed to miss the postseason, but the team was plagued by injuries this season and won just 42 games before an eventual sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference’s first round.
He was an assistant coach for Memphis from 2007-13 before taking over the head coaching duties.