Basketball fans everywhere were stunned when news broke that the Sacramento Kings had fired head coach David Joerger. After all, Joerger had been with the team for three seasons and they surprised many this past year by nearly making the playoffs. The Kings finished 39-43, their best mark under Joerger, and ended up in ninth place in the tough Western Conference.
Considering the improvement of the Kings this season, nobody expected Joerger to get fired. However, it now makes him one of the most attractive options for any team searching for a new head coach. We’re here to predict the five best bets for where he coaches next. The difficulty lies in the fact that there are no other coaching vacancies currently in the NBA. No place feels obvious, but we’ve found five with potential.
Yes, the least likely option would be the Los Angeles Lakers. The storied franchise in one of the brightest cities in the country just doesn’t feel like an ideal fit for Joerger. However, you have to mention them because stranger things have happened. The Lakers are coming off a disastrous season where they missed the playoffs and even finished behind Sacramento. Magic Johnson just stepped down as president and there have been talks of firing current coach Luke Walton for a while. If that happens, you’d have to consider that someone close to star LeBron James gets the gig, but Joerger’s name will most likely be tossed around.
Back in 2013, the Memphis Grizzlies surprised many when they fired Lionel Hollins after a 56 win season that saw them reach the Western Conference Finals. His replacement? David Joerger. The odds of him returning to Memphis may not seem high, but he did have success there. Joerger went 147-99 during his tenure there. He could be just the guy to step in and take over the reins of a team that won only 33 games last season. J.B. Bickerstaff doesn’t seem to be on the hot seat yet, but you never know in the NBA.
The Washington Wizards are one of the more baffling cases in the NBA. This is a talented team starring the likes of John Wall and Bradley Beal, playing in the weaker Eastern Conference. And yet, they consistently underwhelm. There’s also the matter of the constant in-fighting the team goes through and the massive money problems they’re facing. This team is in bad shape, especially after a 32-50 season. Scott Brooks is a coach that management has a lot of faith in, but something has to give. It’ll be difficult to move the high priced players, so Brooks might get the boot instead. Joerger is as good as anyone to step in.
The New Orleans Pelicans had a rough year. They let All-Star DeMarcus Cousins go in free agency and didn’t surround fellow All-Star Anthony Davis with enough firepower. That led to Davis demanding a trade and the team finishing 33-49 after winning a Playoff series the year prior. Alvin Gentry’s seat as head coach is scalding hot. The franchise likes him, but this kind of rough patch is tough to rebound from. When Davis is dealt, the team will be rebuilding. Seeing what Joerger has done for Sacramento makes him a great candidate for the Pelicans.
If there’s one team that almost has a guaranteed coaching opening, it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ty Lue was fired early in the season and Larry Drew stepped in as the interim head coach. Drew has been clear that he wanted a real investment from the team, but they didn’t share those feelings. He played out a 19-63 season and the Cleveland job seems open. Joerger could slide right in. The situation isn’t as dire as some might think. Sure, the franchise has a lot of money wrapped up in veterans but there’s potential. Collin Sexton had a great rookie season and the team will have a top 3 pick in the upcoming draft.