Does Joerger’s arrival hurt the Sixers’ chances at landing Buddy Hield?

Doc Rivers made his first major addition to the Sixers organization by hiring Dave Joerger as an assistant coach. Joerger is a very talented X’s and O’s coach, especially on the defensive end. He has a solid resume and should complement Doc Rivers very well in what will turn out to be an extremely impactful addition to the team. Joerger is a great signing by just about all accounts, however, there is a concern on how he will impact a potential Buddy Hield move to Philly.

Buddy Wants To Come To Philly?

After the poor playoff performance and overall disappointing season, it is clear that the Sixers are in need of shooting. This has been the calling card of Buddy Hield since he came into the NBA. Buddy knocks down 3’s at 41.1% and is one of the premier catch-and-shooters across the league. His quick trigger and ability to create separation could unlock parts of the playbook that have not been possible since the departure of JJ Redick.

Largely due to his recent unhappiness in Sacramento, the rumors of Buddy Hield being traded have floated around all season. The rumors of him coming to the Sixers picked up steam again recently after Buddy Hield liked a photo on Instagram that stated, “the Sixers have reportedly expressed trade interest in Buddy Hield.” While it is unlikely the Sixers have been the only team expressing interest, it seems clear that the days of Buddy Hield wearing a Kings jersey are numbered.

Desire to Get out of Sac-Town

After coming off a career year and inking a 4 year $94 million contract extensions last offseason, the relationship between Buddy and the Kings has taken a rocky turn. In the 2018-19 season, Buddy led the team in scoring with 20.7 points per game and was second on the team in minutes per game. He established himself as a focal point in the offense and was ready to carry this over into this season.

With Luke Walton taking over as head coach this season, Buddy ended up moving to a 6th man role despite starting all 82 games the previous season. Walton cited concerns about Hield’s defense and shot selection for the reason for taking him out of the starting lineup. Buddy continued to see his minutes cut and was kept on the bench during the key moments of the game.

In a press conference this season, Buddy talked about how there were “trust issues” within the Kings organization, saying that “they stop believing in players.” It has now gotten to the point where Hield has not answered any of Luke Walton’s calls or texts this offseason and his camp has made it fairly well-known that he would like a fresh start on another roster. Buddy is still locked up under contract, but the relationships may be damaged to a point where the organization needs to make moving him a priority.

Joerger Influence

While tensions certainly hit their peak with Walton as the Kings coach, things were not all sunshine and rainbows with Buddy when Dave Joerger was the head coach. Joerger and Hield did not see eye-to-eye on how the team should be run when he was still the head coach and the idea of benching him reportedly started with Dave Joerger. Despite the tense feelings, Buddy started all 82 games in the 2018-19 season (Joerger’s last with the team) and had the best year of his career.

Hield was originally traded to the Kings in the deal that paired Demarcus Cousins with Anthony Davis in the Pelicans backcourt. Hield came to the Kings in 2016 and Joerger was the coach for his first 3 seasons in Sac-Town. Under Joerger, Buddy played more minutes, averaged more points, and shot the ball at a higher percentage than his time in New Orleans. However, the Kings failed to record a winning record or show any signs of playoff promise, and Joerger was promptly shown the door.

Joerger is well respected around the league for his knowledge of basketball intangibles. He has a great understanding of basketball X’s and O’s and his coaching beliefs are built on a defensive emphasis. However, he also has a reputation for not being the best ego and talent manager, which is a necessary skill for an NBA coach. His management of Buddy is perhaps the clearest example of that and while Joerger recently claimed that he “loves Hield to death,” it is unclear if these feelings are mutual.

While Joerger never benched Buddy, there were several questionable decisions made about the usage of Hield. The most public and clearest example occurred in a matchup against the Warriors where Walton appeared to have an issue with Buddy taking (and Making!) a deep 3 to keep the Kings in the game. Just a few days after this, Hield was benched for the final 5:42 of a game against the Timberwolves that ended up as 7 point loss.

While there is certainly more to this story than just the shot itself, it is a tough look for a coach to be mad at a guy for making a shot- especially at a key point in the game. Along with Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, Buddy Hield reportedly met with Kings’ front office executives about the concerns of Joerger’s management of the team. Despite outperforming their preseason expectations, the Kings blew a prime opportunity to sneak into the playoffs and finished 9th in West, just 2 games behind the Pistons for the 8th seed.

Due to the disappointing ending to the season and frustrations with his lack of communication with players in the Kings’ young core, Joerger was fired at the end of the 2018-19 season. While it is unlikely Buddy has envisioned a reunion with Joerger, this should not be a reason for souring on a Hield trade deal.

Dave Joerger will undoubtedly play an important role in coaching discussions and making defensive adjustments, but at the end of the day, Doc Rivers will be the guy calling the shots.

Rivers has been known to have a lead assistant with head coaching experience throughout his coaching career and having the former Kings coach on the staff is no exception to this. The bad blood between Joerger and Hield does not change the fact that Buddy had a career year under his coaching system. It also does not change the elements of Buddy’s game that are non-existent on the Sixers’ current roster. A reunion between Hield and Joerger is probably not something either one of them imagined but their history should not be a reason to pass up on the opportunity to add a player the caliber that Buddy is.

Besides, it wouldn’t be Sixers basketball if there wasn’t a little extra drama involved.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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