The Sacramento Kings came into the season projected to be among the very worst teams in the league, which would have been a real bummer had it come true considering the team owed its pick (unprotected!) to the Sixers or Celtics, depending on where it landed.
Shocking everyone — especially people in and around Sacramento — the Kings ended up thoroughly competent, finished 39-43 and staying in the playoff race into March. It ended up being the Kings’ best season since 2006, Rick Adelman’s last season in Sactown and the Kings’ last playoff year. The Kings largely achieved this off the backs of the development of young players, not flashy player acquisitions. As such, you’d expect the front office and coaching staff to share some credit as they work toward building on the success next season.
But this is the Kangz we’re talking about.
On Thursday, the Kings’ president of basketball operations Vlade Divac fired coach Dave Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams to consolidate power within the franchise, which is apparently being run like a crime family or medieval duchy. Joerger and Williams had been sniping at each other in the press much of the season for pretty silly reasons, most hovering around Marvin Bagley, his minutes, his not being Luka Doncic. To see them both take a fall is pretty wild.
Is this a good move, a bad move, a neutral move? These Kings coached by Joerger are a known quantity: good, exciting, hard-working, improving. Who will De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bagley, and Harry Giles be under a new coach? We don’t know. Who could that new coach be? We don’t know. The Kings shouldn’t be able to land good coaches, but Sacramento did hire Joerger after the George Karl catastrophe, and Joerger was a good coach. The team’s in a better spot now. Good candidates should be on the table. Ettore Messina is being mentioned a bunch. Luke Walton is being mentioned.
It’s still weird that even after such a positive, happy season, the Kings are right back in a maelstrom of instability the day after the last game. Once the Kangz always the Kangz.
No scores to report.
Here’s the weekend schedule for Games 1 of the 2019 NBA playoffs. All times Eastern. Let’s go!
Nets at Sixers, 2:30, ESPN
Magic at Raptors, 5, ESPN
Clippers at Warriors, 8, ABC
Spurs at Nuggets, 10:30, ESPN
Pacers at Celtics, 1, TNT
Thunder at Blazers, 3:30, ABC
Pistons at Bucks, 7, TNT
Jazz at Rockets, 9:30, TNT
Programming note: GMIB will nominally move to seven days a week for the next while, though we may skip the newsletter on days with little happening.
Who will win the East? Mike Prada makes the case for the Pacers. Kristian Winfield makes the case for the Sixers. KW makes the case for the Celtics. Matt Ellentuck makes the case for the Bucks. I make the only correct case, the case for the Raptors. Yes, the Raptors are going to the NBA Finals.
Sabreena Merchant explains how the Clippers keep winning after trading their stars.
Great Q&A with DeMarcus Cousins on the eve of his first ever playoff appearance, especially the answer about the racist Boston fan and not judging a group by their worst actors.
Jonathan Tjarks on Kevin Durant reaching an apex of sorts as a player.
John Gonzalez writes about some of the players who were a part of The Process but aren’t around for the glory.
Kevin Arnovitz on the implosion of team culture this season.
Be excellent to each other.