Nuggets head coach Mike Malone can rest easy (for now) knowing he has the team with the best record in the NBA. But it wasn’t too long ago that he was out of a job, sitting on ice after an untimely and probably unfair exit in Sacramento.
That’s why he’s taken his fair share of jabs at Kings management since re-entering the NBA as Denver’s head coach in 2014. Like the comment he made on Thursday’s about Sacramento’s new coach Dave Joerger, who has guided the Kings to an impressive start few saw coming this season.
“[Kings GM Vlade Divac], this group, they’ve done a great job,” Malone told reporters before his Nuggets played his former team on Thursday. “I just hope they let Dave do his job and not screw it up for him.”
This wasn’t the first time Malone spoke about Divac and the tumultuous Kings front office. Sacramento fired him 24 games into the 2014-15 season with the team skidding while DeMarcus Cousins was out battling viral meningitis. He then took a job coaching his daughter’s fourth grade basketball team with his time off.
Malone appeared shortly after on The Chris Mannix Show. Here’s what he said about his time in Sacramento, compared to his new gig coaching fourth-graders.
“But, I kid you not, that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had coaching,” he said. “And maybe it’s because I knew I wasn’t going to have an owner coming down, firing me because we weren’t playing a certain style of play that he wanted.”
This is what Joerger had to deal with earlier this season
The Kings jumped out to an impressive early start to the season, but their No. 2 overall pick, Marvin Bagley III, wasn’t getting the playing time Divac and Sacramento management expected. Yahoo!’s Chris Haynes reported there was a disconnect between Joerger and management in mid-November. They wanted him to develop Bagley. Joerger, rightfully so, wanted to win games.
Joerger’s handling of 2018 No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III could eventually lead to the coach’s dismissal, league sources told Yahoo Sports, Haynes reported.
Sources said the franchise is growing frustrated with how Joerger is distributing minutes and assigning roles to the team’s young prospects.
But it became clear the Kings are for real this season. They play faster than anyone else, for longer than anyone else. Joerger’s job became safe, despite a tumultuous beginning.
That’s why Malone says what he says and will likely continue taking his shots at Kings management when he can. They fired him early into the 2014-15 season with their star player out. And after the drama Joerger dealt with earlier this year, Malone knows Sacramento can do it again.