Dave Joerger
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Why doesn’t Dave Joerger have a head coaching gig in the NBA? Seriously, the guy is one of the better coaches in the league with tons of wins under his belt. Joerger took one team to the playoffs and was on the verge of a successful rebuild for another. Why did he get fired from both jobs? And why aren’t any of the struggling teams bringing him in for an interview?

Resume

Joerger’s most tenured position in the NBA came with the Memphis Grizzlies. He served as a team assistant starting in 2007 and eventually became the head coach for the 2013-2014 season. Under Joerger, the Grit n’ Grind Grizzlies were one of the best defensive teams in the league. Joerger knew his roster well and played to their strengths. Memphis didn’t have a “guy” and relied on smothering defense to get to the playoffs.

Joerger took the same adaptive approach to the Sacramento Kings. Rather than taking it slow, Joerger decided to take advantage of De’Aaron Fox’s lightening speed and increase the pace of his offense. While the Kings didn’t make the playoffs, they were 9th in the West in 2019 and were looking good for the future. But, as with Memphis, Joerger was cut loose and hasn’t coached since.

Why was Joerger fired?

While there can be multiple variables as to why a coach was let go, in Joerger’s case, it can be simplified to his relationship with the team/front office. Joerger and former Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace regularly bumped heads. Wallace distrusted Joerger because Joerger had previously interviewed for the Minnesota Timberwolves gig, and only stayed with Memphis because he didn’t get it. But the way Joerger coached and how the players talked about Joerger indicated Joerger took his job seriously.

Similarly, Joerger butted heads with Kings GM Vlade Divac. Divac cited a lackluster finish to another losing season, but Joerger had improved that Kings team to the point where he had second and third-year guys leading the way for a playoff run this year. Joerger was fired and replaced by Luke Walton, who has slowed both the pace and the growth of this young Kings team. Walton should be the one still looking for a job, not Joerger.

What now?

Dave Joerger should not have to wait much longer for a job. There are a fair number of coaches who are on the hot seat and may very well find themselves out of a job come this offseason. With the Knicks job being taken, my best guess would be Joerger could go to a place like Chicago. Bulls fans and players are tired of Jim Boylen and they deserve to have a real coach. Charlotte and Washington are other possible destinations.

Joerger is 245-247 overall as a coach, with the vast majority of those losses coming from the Kings rebuild. He’s a good coach who deserves a job. I enjoyed him at Memphis and honestly wished he could’ve stayed longer. He’s not perfect, but he can effectively get the best out of all his players. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask of a coach.

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