Mavs sensation Luka Doncic hasn’t wasted any time taking the NBA by storm. Prior to his rookie season, he was one of the most coveted European prospects of all time, having racked up all sorts of accolades playing professional basketball as a teenager in the world’s most competitive league outside of the U.S.
Still, some teams were skeptical, most infamously the Atlanta Hawks, who traded Luka to the Mavs on draft night to secure the rights to Trae Young. But other teams passed on him as well, including the Phoenix Suns, who took Deandre Ayton with the top overall pick, and the Sacramento Kings, who went with Duke star Marvin Bagley III.
Some are already regretting that decision, and Kings head coach Dave Joerger may be among them. Joerger had high praise for Doncic prior to his team’s home game against the Mavs on Sunday, and seemed to send a message to the Kings front office that passed on the Slovenian wunderkind on draft night.
It’s difficult not to read that as a shot at his own front office. GM Vlade Divac has been the target of sharp media criticism for his various managerial decisions during his tenure. But perhaps more troubling are the rumblings that Joerger feels threatened by assistant general manager Brandon Williams, who Joerger allegedly believes is jockeying for his job as head coach.
Lost amid this is the effect it might have on Bagley. While Joerger didn’t criticize the rookie forward directly, the disappointment in his production/development relative to Doncic is inescapable. On the court, things have actually been looking up for the Kings this season for the first time in a long time, but as has often been the case in recent years, inter-organizational dysfunction threatens to undermine that progress.