Ranadive On Gay, Malone, D’Alessandro, Cousins

Jared Dubin of ESPN.com’s TrueHoop Network scored a one-on-one interview with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who shared a broad range of insight on the team he bought nearly a year ago. The technology magnate makes no bones about his enthusiasm for analytics, and told Dubin about the way extra layers of data convinced the team to trade for Rudy Gay, upon whom advanced metrics have often shed an unflattering light.

“What we did is, we looked at all six years of data, we looked at spatial data, we looked at what happened with a big guy, and what would happen if he was the second or the third option,” Ranadive said. “We concluded that his efficiency would go up dramatically, and sure enough, it’s gone up 20 percentage points.”

It’s not quite clear how Ranadive is measuring efficiency in this context, but most measures demonstrate that Gay has indeed performed better in Sacramento than he had with the Raptors. Dubin’s entire piece is worth your attention, particularly if you’re a Kings fan, but we’ll share some of the highlights here:

On hiring coach Michael Malone:

“He was the 21st century kind of coach that I wanted. The style of play — we want to be like the Spurs, but exciting. We want to create a winning franchise that is a perennial contender, and we also want a strong defense, combined with up-tempo play. Malone is a coach’s son, and there was high demand for him. I knew that I wanted him, so I made a deal with him that once I bought a team, he would be my coach.” 

On hiring GM Pete D’Alessandro:

“When I spoke to Pete, I told him, ‘I’ve got three other candidates that are finalists for this job, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get job. I will interview you, and most likely it will be for an assistant GM [position]. If you want to come out, come out, but the chances of you getting it are 1%.’ He came out, and the night before I gave him a call and said, ‘There are just five questions I have for you,’ and then he just absolutely blew me away. Blew me away. He was the kind of 21st century GM that I was looking for. Looking at that, we don’t hold the fact that you haven’t done something against you. Mark Zuckerberg was 21 when he invented Facebook. That’s just how we think.” 

On signing DeMarcus Cousins to a maximum-salary extension:

“He plays really hard. I know that he’s had issues with his temper and so on, but when I took over the franchise, the first thing I did was I texted him and I said, ‘Hey, my friend Steve Jobs likes to say ‘Let’s go to the end of the universe.’ So let’s do that in the NBA.’ And just like one of my kids, he sent me a three-word text back just saying, ‘Sounds good, boss.’ That was the start of my relationship with him and his mom. Before we gave him the contract, it was over the summertime, and I said, ‘Look, I just want one thing from you. I want you to be the first guy in and the last guy out. As long as you do that, we’re good.’ And he did. He lost a bunch of weight; he was the hardest-working guy in practice. The coaches have done a great job with him, and his numbers reflect it. He’s had amazing numbers. There’s still more work to be done, but I am very pleased with where he is.”

On his plan for changing the draft lottery, which he dubs the “V Plan.”

“There’s two parts to it. Part one is that you freeze the draft order at the time of the All-Star break. Then, everything [pertaining to the current lottery system] remains the same, but it’s frozen based on the standings at the All-Star break. Then there’s no gain in not playing at the highest level for the remainder of the season. That’s part one. Part two is that at the end of the season, the top seven teams from the Eastern Conference and the top seven teams from the Western Conference make the playoffs. Then for the eighth playoff spot, the remaining eight teams have a sudden-death, college-style playoff in a neutral venue, like Vegas in the West and Kansas or Louisville in the East.”

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