Kings owner Vivek Ranadive indeed sees vice president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac as the team’s primary basketball decision-maker instead of GM Pete D’Alessandro, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The team put Divac above D’Alessandro on its organizational chart when it hired its former center in March, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether Divac would be at the controls. D’Alessandro’s future with the club is unclear, as Stein and Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) write. Sacramento is looking to hire another front office executive to support Divac whether or not D’Alessandro remains with the Kings, Stein hears.
Former Kings adviser Chris Mullin, who left the team a week ago to coach at St. John’s, his alma mater, was D’Alessandro’s closest ally, according to Stein. Mullin lost influence with Ranadive when he refused to coach the team immediately after the midseason firing of Michael Malone rather than wait until next season, sources tell the ESPN scribe. Mullin and D’Alessandro resisted the hiring of Divac, though D’Alessandro said last month that he and others were pleased to have Divac aboard, as Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee reported then.
Ranadive’s appointment of Divac atop the basketball power structure means the owner has once more hired a top hoops executive after hiring a coach, since George Karl joined the team in February, though Divac has made it clear that he likes Karl, Stein notes. Divac worked in the Lakers scouting department after his retirement in 2005, and he served as president of Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade and as an adviser to Spain’s Real Madrid, as Stein points out. He’s also done Olympic and FIBA administrative work and has a reputation as a unifying force, according to Stein. That jibes with a recent report from The Bee’s Jason Jones that Ranadive has wanted to end the discord that’s marked the front office of late. Ranadive had lost faith in the front office’s plan, Jones tweets.
D’Alessandro came aboard shortly after Ranadive bought the team in 2013. The GM had been former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri‘s chief aide, and Denver was reportedly leaning toward hiring D’Alessandro for its own GM vacancy in 2013, when Ujiri left to head the Raptors. D’Alessandro’s tenure in charge of Sacramento’s basketball operations was marked by an aggressive posture toward trades, particularly in his first season, when the team acquired Rudy Gay from Ujiri and the Raptors. The Kings under D’Alessandro pushed Gay to opt in for this season and signed him to an extension this past fall, and they gave DeMarcus Cousins a max extension the previous offseason.