The Sacramento Kings, now into their second day of fast-moving talks with Dave Joerger, hope to finalize a deal Monday that will make Joerger their new coach, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Kings and Joerger are in advanced discussions on a four-year deal that, barring a late snag, is expected to land in the $16 million range. The contract would likely include a team option for the fourth year.
Joerger quickly emerged Sunday as the top candidate for the Sacramento job after a productive round of talks between the former Memphis Grizzlies coach and Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac. Joerger's agent Warren LeGarie and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive were scheduled to join the process Monday.
The Kings, sources say, had become increasingly intrigued by the idea of hiring Joerger away from the Grizzlies over the past week and had sought permission to talk to him, which was among the factors that prompted Memphis to cut ties with him suddenly and make Joerger a coaching free agent.
In on-court terms, Joerger is coming off perhaps his best coaching job, guiding Memphis to a 42-40 record and a spot in the Western Conference playoffs as a No. 7 seed, despite a slew of injuries that led the Grizzlies to employ an NBA-record 28 players this season.
No previous NBA team that employed 24 players or more in a single season had ever reached the playoffs.
But ESPN.com reported as far back as November that a growing disconnect between Joerger and his colleagues in the Grizzlies' front office could put his job in jeopardy.
Joerger rankled Memphis officials early in the season, when he described the team's roster as "a little bit old." And he gave a window into the simmering divide between coach and management as recently as the day after Memphis' first-round ouster by the San Antonio Spurs, telling local reporters he wouldn't see them again until July 1 -- after the NBA draft -- because he wouldn't be part of Memphis' draft preparations.
Joerger had only one guaranteed season left on his Memphis contract at an annual salary of $2 million, which is well below the current standard for established coaches.
Before Sunday's talks with Joerger, Divac interviewed NBA coaching veterans Sam Mitchell, Vinny Del Negro, Mike Woodson, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan as well as veteran assistant coaches Patrick Ewing and Elston Turner and current Sacramento assistant Corliss Williamson -- all part of what Sacramento had always planned to be a broad, deliberate search.
The Kings had lined up an interview with former NBA assistant coach Henry Bibby, and they had received permission to interview Spurs assistant coaches Ettore Messina and James Borrego for the job when San Antonio has a suitable break in its playoff schedule. It was not immediately clear whether those interviews would remain on the schedule given the serious nature of the Joerger talks.