The Sacramento Kings being competitive, and having fun doing it, was the biggest surprise in the NBA this year by a country mile. Not the Celtics failing to win 50 games, not all of the Kevin Durant to the Knicks rumors. The Kings, who have sucked in the most horrendous of ways for almost two decades, were a fun team that won games! Sure, they didn’t make the playoffs, but they were in it until the last few weeks of the season. So what do the Kings do in the first day of their most important offseason in years? Fire the coach who made it happen.
I want to say it’s astonishing. I want to say no one saw it coming. But it’s just so painfully Sacramento that it’s hard to be surprised or shocked. This year’s Kings have looked nothing like the Kings of the past 15 years, who made the worst possible decision every single time to remain a perennial lottery team. This season, their choice to pass on Luka Doncic actually seems somewhat justifiable with how good Marvin Bagley III looks, De'Aaron Fox is a legit star, and Buddy Hield is one of the best shooters in the league. Everything was coming together. Things were changing for the better.
GM Vlade Divac, fresh off a new extension, apparently decided that he doesn’t like how that would look. Dave Joerger has made the most drastic transformation of any coach in recent history, going from coaching the slowest team in the league in Memphis to engineering a high-flying offense spearheaded by one of the fastest player in the league in Sacramento. All in the space of three years. He not only adjusted his personal philosophy, he took on the challenge of taking a bunch of very young guys and castoffs from other teams, developed them to their potential, and got them to play together.
He is thanked by a “face-to-face firing”, a sentiment that loses all of its luster when it gets leaked to Woj hours before it happens. These are the Kings we’re used to: the franchise that, against all odds, completely blows their chance to have something good. This could work out, but the history of the Kings indicates otherwise. Divac was their savior, and now he’s leading them to their downfall.