12:01pm: The extension is official, the team announced.
“My commitment to the Sacramento Kings goes back to my days as a player and I’m grateful to continue playing my part in creating a winning future for the Sacramento Kings,” Divac said in the team’s statement. “I know that we have what it takes to be a successful franchise and I look forward to continuing to improve and build on the progress that we’ve made.”
10:05am: The Kings are putting the finishing touches on a multiyear extension for Vlade Divac, who runs the front office as GM and vice president of basketball operations, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The team is also close to adding an experienced front office hand, with former Pacers and Bucks executive David Morway the leading candidate for that role, Stein adds. The team doesn’t have a deal with Morway yet, USA Today’s Sam Amick cautions, nonetheless suggesting that he’s the only candidate and that it’s only a matter of time before he joins the team (Twitter link). Presumably, he’d report to Divac.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Divac, who’s in his first job as an NBA executive, as he’s reportedly struggled to grasp salary cap concepts and the Kings have fallen short of their goal of the postseason this year. Ranadive has reportedly mulled replacing him with John Calipari on occasion, but the extension for Divac appears to cut off the idea that Calipari, who’s insistent on a dual coach/executive role, would join the organization. Divac decided against firing coach George Karl in February after nearly doing so, but the team is widely expected to search for a new coach this summer, Stein writes, pointing out that Sacramento hired Karl before bringing in Divac last year.
Turmoil surrounding DeMarcus Cousins has been the primary storyline for the Kings under Divac, with Karl reportedly going behind Divac’s back to negotiate potential trades, though Divac has insisted on several occasions that he doesn’t intend to trade the center. Divac and Cousins grew close, though Divac was enveloped in Cousins’ tirade against Karl earlier this month.
Divac’s time in the Kings front office appeared to begin innocuously when the team named him vice president of basketball and franchise operations a year ago. It wasn’t publicly known until a month later that Divac’s arrival usurped GM Pete D’Alessandro‘s player personnel power, though Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee noted when the hiring took place that Divac was above D’Alessandro on the organizational chart. Still, Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive were the only ones in the Kings brass who knew the implications of the move for a few days after it took place, as SB Nation’s Tom Ziller reported.
D’Alessandro left the Kings this past summer for a job with the Nuggets, and assistant GM Mike Bratz has essentially been the only seasoned voice in the Sacramento front office since then. The Kings gave Divac the GM title in late August following the departure of D’Alessandro. Morway would bring more than a decade of experience under Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh in the Pacers front office as vice president of basketball administration and later GM. Morway resigned from the Pacers in 2012 and joined the Bucks as assistant GM in 2013, but Milwaukee declined to renew his contract last year.
It’s not the first time Morway has been connected to the Kings. He reportedly interviewed for the GM job in 2013 before it went to D’Alessandro. More recently, the Kings interviewed former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks for the role that Morway is apparently poised to fill, but Marks made it clear that the Kings job wouldn’t be a good fit for him, Amick tweets.