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Dave Joerger discusses his rotation plans for next season

Joerger may have a 10-man rotation with multiple players getting 20-30 minutes. George Hill could spend some time at shooting guard.

Photo by Kimani Okearah

During Dave Joerger’s coaches clinic in June, he said he couldn’t really say how his team was going to play next season because the NBA Draft and free agency was still ahead of him. In particular, he pointed out that he didn’t know who his point guard was going to be so he couldn’t make those types of predictions. Now, with the roster more settled with George Hill and De’Aaron Fox slated to handle the point guard duties and the rest of the roster filled out, the head coach for the Sacramento Kings has a better idea of how he plans to play next season and what his rotation may look like.

Joerger and his foundation, the Dave Joerger Foundation, held a school backpack giveaway at Oak Park Community Center on Sunday with support from the Center for Fathers and Families and the Kings. At the event, kids got free backpacks, had the opportunity to get their nails done and/or a haircut and play a little basketball. It was a well-attended event as 375 backpacks were given away and they were all filled with school supplies. The kids who were there will definitely have some added confidence as they go back to school thanks to everyone who helped put the event on. Joerger plans to make it an annual event and seems to thoroughly enjoy helping out in the community.

In between talking with folks at the event, Joerger took some time to chat with Sactown Royalty about his rotation next season.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

At your coaching clinic earlier this summer you said you couldn’t say at that point how you guys were going to play because you still had the NBA Draft and free agency coming up, and you specifically mentioned you didn’t know who your point guard would be. Now, you have George Hill and De’Aaron Fox, so how do you see those guys leading this team and that shaping up, even though it is still pretty early?

Without getting overly specific because I still don’t know … there is a big gap between the older guys, there’s not like a middle-age group so to speak, and so how do you play with Zach [Randolph]? How do you play without Zach? I do think that I’ll play a lot of guys, and I don’t mean one guy gets 35 [minutes] and the other guy behind him gets 13. I think you’re going to see a lot of guys in the 20s. I think every day you come to the gym, you know you’re going to play, and like you are counted on to produce. So, by playing 10 guys, I think that’s best for us. I think that as De’Aaron develops, how fast it comes along, there’s nothing wrong with George Hill playing some two. In fact, that might help De’Aaron develop because George can get guys in spots and De’Aaron can as he’s learning. It will be interesting how that goes.

Certainly, we have a lot of shooting guards, and so how does that play out? Do you come in the with the mindset of it’s wide open and whichever of you four guys, two are going to play and two aren’t? I don’t know, because we’re in a developmental situation. Some guys need to play whether they beat somebody out or not. So, I’m in full support of that.

With De’Aaron, everybody talks about his speed and how quickly he can get up and down the floor, but as a rookie who is still going to need to learn how to play in the NBA, how do you manage that speed to make sure he doesn’t get out of control?

It’s especially the idea of tempo. Like, OK you can go 100 miles an hour, or you can go really slow, but where is that medium? Where is it where you get in a cruise control and your teammates find a rhythm because they know when you’re going and when they don’t, and that just kind of takes time … that’s one of the things that I will focus on with him. I think people talk about his jump shot. I might leave his jump shot alone for a little bit. With all the stuff these guys have going through their brains with new terminology, new plays, new defensive schemes, what we allow, what we don’t allow … I think maybe small changes only, but I’m really going to focus on his floor game.

Last season, you talked about how you were brining Skal Labissiere along slowly, picking matchups for him and not throwing him in the fire. As you did that, toward the end of last season and in summer league, do you think he started to get it or do you think you are still going to have to operate the same way with him?

There will still be some interesting-ness. You go into it and you just never know how it could work out because you could very easily play Zach Randolph at center. Well, that’s difficult because then you are sitting there with about 21 feet of dudes looking down at you, going “center, center, center.” Because that would help Skal, right? And it would open up some minutes and Zach is a heck of a player, so how do you figure out how to do that? But I’m proud of him, he’s a worker, he’s a good human being. He’s gotten better and better.

You are going to get the rotation questions a lot next season from media and fans. What is your message to everyone who is going to be playing the armchair coach the whole season as you juggle these veterans and younger players?

I think you partner with management on the deal. How can we see who can play? How can we perform at the best level? How can we create a culture of competitiveness where you are rewarded for doing things right and the better players play? So, all of those things factor into it. And yeah, the Monday morning quarterback is going to be tough because if we’re taking losses it’s always going to be, if there’s three guys at every position, it’s like “Well, why didn’t he play?” So, yeah, pray for me [laughs]. Nah, it’ll be good, we’ve got good guys that work together, we’ll figure it out.