Being fired from an NBA head coaching job is not always a bad thing. In fact, some people might view it like getting free bets on the lottery because the firing frees the coach up and gives them the opportunity to find a winner with little to no risk.
Former Head Coach Dave Joerger was fired this past week by the Memphis Grizzlies. His situation was near impossible to navigate in Memphis due in large part to the coach’s difficult relationship with All-Star point guard Mike Conley. Surely, owner Robert Pera and General Manager Chris Wallace aren’t holding Joerger responsible for a disappointing season riddled with key injuries to key players. It really seems to boil down to the Grizzlies needing to clear any possible obstacles that could stand in the team’s way of resigning Conley, who becomes a free agent in July.
Given the amount of respect other teams from around the league have for Joerger, it comes as no surprise he was immediately picked up and signed as the new head coach for the Sacramento Kings. While some pundits might view this as the coach jumping from the frying pan into the fire, the Kings might be the perfect place for Coach Joerger to ply his trade.
There’s no denying that team leaders Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins can be a bit difficult to coach. However, Coach Joerger surely learned a thing or two about dealing with personnel issues through his interactions in Memphis. It’s encouraging to see he wasted no time throwing himself into a situation where the team’s former coach, George Karl, had been dealing with issues of his own. A fresh start for everyone involved might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
At Memphis, Joerger was able to show the basketball world just how adaptable his coaching style had become. It’s not easy to coach an aging team in the NBA, and that is exactly what he has been having to deal with over the past few years. His solution was simple, simplify and slow down the offense and let his veterans grind it out on the court. He took the cards he was dealt and for the most part, turned his hand into a winner.
In Sacramento, his ability to continue adapting will be tested. First, Rondo will be entering free agency, which leaves a possible hole at the point guard position. Second, all eyes will be watching to see how Coach Joerger’s relationship with Cousins develops over the first few months. If the situation is fluid, Cousins might finally have the opportunity to live up to his tremendous potential.
On the plus side, there should be renewed enthusiasm on the part of the fans as the Kings move into its new state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center. Also, Coach Joerger lands himself a team that is perfectly tailored for his preferred up-tempo style of offense. In that regard alone, this particular coach might the exact right fit. As a great technician and Xs and Os guy, he will finally have the tools he needs to take full advantage of his skills as a coach.
With all of the above taken into consideration, it will be difficult for the Kings to use its free bets on the head coaching lottery to become a winner if they can’t get the right personnel running up and down the basketball court. There is work to be done in that regard. The good news is the Kings now have a strong young head coach and strong young players who will have the opportunity to grow into a playoff contender together.
Photo: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports/CC Flickr