Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger insisted that his lofty praise of Dallas Mavericks rookie star Luka Doncic wasn't intended as a slight at his team's front office and declared that Marvin Bagley III was "the right guy for us" to select with the No. 2 overall pick.
"There was no veiled shots at anybody," Joerger told reporters in Minnesota on Monday, a day after his praise for Doncic in Dallas made headlines. "De'Aaron [Fox] gushed about him, and [Bogdan Bogdanovic] gushed about him and his ability. It was just out of love and positivity, and people tried to turn it into something between like [Kings general manager Vlade Divac] and I. Vlade and I are [close], like absolutely. Three years now we've been working together, and we love it. I love it."
Joerger's praise for Doncic raised eyebrows in large part due to heavily reported friction between the head coach and the Kings' front office, particularly assistant general manager Brandon Williams.
Dallas acquired Doncic, the rookie of the year favorite who is averaging 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists, with the No. 3 overall pick immediately after the Kings selected Bagley.
"Perhaps there was an idea that there was a ceiling on him," Joerger said of Doncic on Sunday. "I don't see it, unfortunately for us. But he's great for them, and he's great for our league."
Joerger, whose intense displeasure with the Grizzlies' passing on Rodney Hood in the 2014 draft played a role in his falling out with the Memphis management, insisted he was ecstatic that the Kings picked Bagley.
Joerger emphasized that sentiment by declaring that Bagley would combine with Fox, a blossoming star the Kings picked in the lottery last year, to develop into one of the NBA's dominant duos. Bagley, who is out at least 10 days with a bone bruise in his left knee, is averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds off the Kings' bench.
"When we drafted Marvin at 2, we were high-fiving like crazy," Joerger said. "We got the right guy for us and where we're going to be. This is only going to be a story for three days. It'll definitely be buried five years from now when we've got the next Durant and Westbrook. That's how good they're going to be. They're both going to be in the All-Star Game, and we're going to be deep in the playoffs, and I'm excited about that.
"I like where we are, and I love where we're going. Everything is just love. I coached this kid in 25 games now, and every night, I want to go home and do cartwheels."