Big Changes Coming In Sacramento?

Vivek Ranadive and other members of the Kings‘ ownership have grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s poor performance, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ranadive has been open about his disappointment through text messages in season-long group chats with general manager Vlade Divac, head coach Luke Walton, assistant general manager Peja Stojakovic and chief operating officer Matina Kolokotronis.

The specter that has hung over the franchise for the past two seasons has been the decision to bypass Luka Doncic and take Marvin Bagley with the second pick in the 2018 draft. Doncic has developed into an MVP candidate, while injuries have limited Bagley to 13 games this year and may wipe out the rest of his season.

The Kings put a lot of effort into scouting Doncic, Charania relays, including a dinner with Ranadive that one of the owner’s children posted on social media. Ownership supported taking Doncic, but Divac and former assistant GM Brandon Williams were concerned about how he would fit alongside De’Aaron Fox and believed adding a big man was a better choice.

Sources tell Charania that significant changes aren’t being planned to the front office or coaching staff right now, but Ranadive will reassess the situation this summer. He declined to be interviewed, but the team issued a statement that read, “We share our fans’ frustrations with how the season has unfolded and are working hard to improve. We remain confident in Vlade’s leadership in building the winning team that our fans and city deserve.”

Charania shares more from inside the Kings’ organization:

  • Divac will be held accountable for the team’s free agent signings last summer and other roster decisions. Dewayne Dedmon was a huge disappointment after being given a three-year, $40MM contract and was traded to Atlanta last week. Trevor Ariza was also traded, while Cory Joseph has been effective as a backup point guard and Richaun Holmes was a nice find before being injured.
  • It was Divac’s decision to fire Dave Joerger and target Walton as his replacement, giving him a contract that runs through the 2022/23 season, just like Divac’s. Several members of the ownership group have been critical of Walton, and sources say that Ranadive’s group chats are a way to air those issues. The organization considered Monty Williams and Ettore Messina as other coaching candidates, but only if Walton turned down the job.
  • A decision could be coming this summer on Buddy Hield, who received a four-year extension in October, but lost his starting job last month. Hield called out “trust issues” in the organization a few weeks ago, and there is a belief that he may ask for a trade if he remains unhappy with his role, a source tells Charania. Hield thinks he should be a starter and has been a frequent critic of Walton’s decisions.
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53 thoughts on “Big Changes Coming In Sacramento?

  1. Skip, Tampa

    Can see Troy Weaver and Becky Hammon in SacTown for May Day Celebrations.
    Especially after 2 years of really bad decisions.

  2. amk3510

    Divac can’t draft or sign free agents. Its about time the owner caught on.

    • i hate my father

      You mean passing on Donic for Bagley over the concerns of having two playmakers on the team was a bad idea? Lol

      • El Don

        If it comes down to Doncic &/or Fox, then get rid of Fox, I mean he is good, but not a franchise changing player, Doncic completely changes the ballgame for any franchise.
        Dumb move… also Walton is a bad HC, so Sacramento is at a point of having dumb & dumber, not a great look, right?

        • JD Candello

          Lets be fair NOBODY had Donic the 2nd pick during the draft

          Look Divac and Walton are complete trash but lets not Monday morning QB past drafts to get to taht point

          • amk3510

            Huh? There was plenty of hype around Doncic and mocks that had him going top 2

            • JD Candello

              Id say 90% of Mocks had Donic anywhere from 3-5 with more having Donic 4-5 than 1-2 –

              Look Im not backing Divac but Monday morning Qb’n drafts is a huge mistake when calling for someones job

              • Luke Adams

                Most mocks right before the draft were attempting to predict how the draft WOULD play out, rather than how it SHOULD. I don’t recall what every expert thought of Doncic, but I know ESPN’s guys (Schmitz and Givony) considered Doncic a top-two guy along with Ayton. link to espn.com

                • x%sure

                  Top two meaning, #2.
                  Forecasters often do confuse ‘could’ and ‘should’ in their efforts to sound as intelligent and far-seeing as possible. NBAdraft.net was remarkably accurate, maybe by doing that.
                  I noticed Grammy predictors have by now separated the two.

                  Recalling HR at the time… As soon as the drafting order was announced, some of the wise folk of the comment section laughed at Vlade, because he would be stuck with taking countryman Doncic despite his liabilities. “Such a Vlade thing to happen”. Not sure about the editorial opinion.

                  Then the DAL-ATL trade. “Well there’s somebody who believes in him”.

              • Luke Adams

                Here’s what Sam Vecenie (The Athletic’s draft expert) said about the pick the day after the draft:

                “I think they should have taken Doncic and am concerned by some of the language Divac used in his presser, saying that Bagley could play the small forward. That is a recipe for disaster, and I say that as someone who is generally a fan of his game.

                Also, reports out of Sacramento stated the team did not want to take the ball out of De’Aaron Fox’s hands, despite the fact that Doncic typically plays with a point guard on the floor for both Slovenia and Real Madrid. If Bagley starts slowly and Doncic plays up to the level that he’s already shown in Europe, things could get ugly early next season with a fan base that is sick of losing.”

                link to theathletic.com

                • JD Candello

                  Luke if we are going to use taking the wrong guy in the draft as any kind of bar for firing GM’S theres going to be 30 jobs open tomorrow

                  Its very easy to say who they should have taken Now….

                  Should the 2 teams that took Ball and Fultz be fired the year before when Sac got Fox as well? Where do we draw the line

                  • Luke Adams

                    Draft mistakes happen, of course. My point is that it’s not revisionist history to say that many smart people viewed the Bagley pick as a mistake at the time.

          • lakersfan27

            All the best draft guys had Doncic going 1st. He was the best player in the draft by a mile.

            • x%sure

              That may be true, but opinions, not a consensus.
              The consensus was Ayton-Bagley-Doncic. Divac is at fault for winning the game but not beating the “spread”. So, he’s not great, but bad enough to be fired?– maybe so still, all considered.

        • Your bang on El Don. Mavs has DSJ and took Doncic and told DSJ bye bye after a year. They traded DSJ while he still has value and got a star player that wanted out of his team. Kings could have been Doncic Heild Barnes Porzingod Dedmon

  3. rxbrgr

    Never worry about fit, draft the best player available and figure it out later!

    • Wouldn’t say don’t worry about fit completely. The Sixers took Nerlens Noel, Joel Embid and Jahil Okafor all in back to back to back years.
      It was worked out fine but would’ve loved to have seen Porzingod or Booker over Okafor in that last year.
      How unstoppable would Porzingod and Embiid be, would be a match up nightmare

    • hiflew

      That’s just silly. Remember when the T-Wolves drafted back to back PGs in the top 6 ahad of Steph Curry because they thought they were the BPAs.

      Don’t be crazy and reach for need, but picking a surplus player at one position over a guy at a position of need just because he is a couple of spots higher on someone’s draft board is just beyond crazy. If there is no player that fits the needs of your team when your turn to pick comes up, that’s what trades are made for. And don’t pick someone in the hopes of trading him later. The value of draft picks drops about as much as the value of a new car. Cars lose 50% of their value as soon as they are driven off the lot and most picks lose that much after they are made.

      • Don’t quite get your point. The mistake wasn’t drafting back to back point guards in your example it was drafting Rubio and Flynn over Curry.
        If they thought Rubio was the best PG in the draft fine take him 5th, I’m saying why would you also draft another PG once you’ve filled that position either trade the next pick or get someone for your next positional need which would’ve been DeMare DeRozan.

        Another example is the Cavs taking Colin Sexton then Darius Garland. Now they have two PGs they don’t work together when they could’ve had Jarrett Culver or Jaxson Hayes.
        Heading into the draft the Cavs the previous year had the worst defence in the league why not address that with Culver or Hayes who both are better defenders and fill positional needs.

          • x%sure

            Drafting for fit reduces human error in talent judgement. Of course no human will say he intends to make an error.

          • Even if you draft the best player available why take 2 PGs 5th and 6th why no trade one of the picks because taking 2 PGs in the same draft back to back isn’t a great idea.
            In the Cavs situation If Garland was the best available player is he worth taking knowing you have Sexton … probably not

    • Nope. The draft is no different than any other method of talent procurement. Whether it’s the draft, FA signings or trades, any competent FO considers Talent, Fit and Price, in roughly equal proportions, in deciding where to apply limited resources. Almost all teams (if not all) approach the draft by separating players by Talent into tiers, and then they draft for Fit within the tiers, or if the Fit is still bad, trade up or down a tier to improve it. It’s similar to what’s done with respect to the trade and FA markets.

      You must of LOVED the Knicks off season FA signings. The 4 PFs they signed were arguably the best available players on most expert lists. They worried about later. But that’s better than doing the same thing in the draft (where they’d have 4 1st round PFs on RSC’s, while only having PT to develop maybe 2 of them).

      I’ve heard don’t draft for “need” – i.e., current positional or skill need – especially at high price points (high 1st rounders). But Fit is one of the big 3, and must always be at the forefront of any FO’s mind when talking about adding a player.

      • Yeah about great extra by the Knicks why not to just stockpile talent at 1 position.
        I think you have to account for so much not talent. Such as potential, play style, fit, off court behaviour, focus, and so much more.
        Another example: Steve Kerr said he traded Russell for Wiggins not because he’s better but fit. He said he didn’t think Curry and Russell would fit positionally and Wiggins does

  4. phillyballers

    They don’t even start Bagley so how would they know? Play the kid when he is healthy take the gloves off. Sac is their own worst enemy. Hield is actually thriving off the bench though, but that is after giving him a shot at starting.

  5. Divac certainly deserves the door. There is, though, a certain irony to the fact that his best decision (Fox), and another of his more explicable ones at the time (passing on Doncic because he had Fox, along with a bunch of other real issues, even if outside the BB merits), are the highlights of his undoing.

    • dirtbagfreitas

      Absolutely. This is a guy who took Papagiannis in the first round and tried to trade him a year later before cutting him instead. Vivek has been way too loyal to these ex Sacramento players.

  6. Ironic. Ownership overruled the front office in 2014 to draft Stauskas over Payton, but in 2018 the front office overruled to take Bagley over Luka. Wouldn’t shock me if Vivek is fabricating his preference for Luka to save face for 2014, though.

  7. trout27

    This organization is absolutely horrid. They need a new outlook from the top on down to the coaching staff. Vlade has had way more than enough to build a competitive team with all the high draft picks. Walton is a horrible coach.

  8. antsmith7

    Buddy played his college ball at Oklahoma, he’d be a great fit next to SGA.

  9. MrWood

    Sac Town owners, cracked out Vlade, way in over his head Walton would be trading

    Bagley, Hield, Fox, Holmes, etc.. and load up on 2021 picks.

    Sac Town dumb AF tho so they’ll carry on being utter garbage like Charlotte, Knicks, Orlando, Bulls, etc..

    • jeremy

      you cant compare charlotte ,bulls and magic to what the kings and knicks are doing. at least those 3 teams havent made as much nosie to being a dumb run basketball team

  10. Pablo Boner

    I can’t wait until ESPN’s forthcoming 30 for 30: “Vivek & Vlade.”

    • jeremy

      to be fair at least wall a proven player. what the heck has buddy done to even get that.

    • Don’t think Heilds contract is bad at all.

      He will make 26 mil next year and every year after it decreases for the next 4 years.
      He’s only 27 so by the time his deal expires he will be 31 which is fine and in terms of production he’s averaging 20-5-3 while shooting 43-39-83..

      Seems like a really fair deal, worst deals in the league would be CP3, Blake Griffin and John Wall. Yes all proven players but all old, have injury issues and get paid nearly 40mil

  11. x%sure

    They’re going to beat on Vlade’s head with this Doncic-stick.
    Doncic-stick go boom.
    Vlade could say, Doncic can’t make 3s and does not project to being fast enough for drives or defense, but then he would be bonked for being wrong. He could have pointed to Williams (the black man), but it is too late now… At the time there was a power struggle, and now he would be taking a risk, so innuendo will have to suffice.

  12. x%sure

    Another hypothetical… given that Dallas moved from #5 to #3 in 2018 by giving up a high 2019 pick. Could Charlotte at #12 take on Chandler Parsons to get the #4, then give up a package to switch to that #3?

    They could package their lower-slot picks the same year (#12) or next, or Kemba Walker (he had one year left, and predictably left anyway a year later with an offer too big to match).

    (The #4 was said for a short time to be available for taking Parson’s contract, with the Memphis FO experiencing changes.
    The Charlotte FO was changing too.)

  13. Miklo916

    Time for Vlade to go he’s done way more harm than good. Idk who to hire cause I’m not a gm expert. With that said I think bagely still be good if he can get over these injury they just keep piling up on him he has the skill set to be really good.

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