Despite some speculation that changes may be coming for the Kings this summer, general manager Vlade Divac and head coach Luke Walton appear “very likely” to remain in their roles into next season, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, both of their contracts run through the 2022/23 season.
A report in February suggested that Kings ownership had grown increasingly frustrated with the club’s on-court results and that owner Vivek Ranadive had expressed that frustration in group chats with Walton, Divac, and other team executives. There was an expectation that Ranadive would re-evaluate everything after the season.
The Kings rebounded nicely following the publication of that report, however. Following the All-Star break, the club won seven of its next 10 games, including a pair of three-game winning streaks. By the time the NBA suspended its season, Sacramento had pulled to within 3.5 games of the No. 8 Grizzlies, giving the Kings an outside chance to make a playoff push — and seemingly providing more job security for Divac and Walton.
That February report also suggested that a decision may be coming this summer on Buddy Hield‘s future, since he had been frustrated with his demotion from the starting lineup and the idea of a trade request seemed possible.
However, in a conversation with Amick and Joe Vardon on The Athletic’s Tampering podcast, Walton insisted that the Hield situation isn’t a concern.
“Buddy was not happy about not starting, but he didn’t b—h,” Walton said. “He said, ‘You’re the coach. I’m going to do what I need to do.’ … Even with Buddy (coming off the bench), he was still playing starter minutes, he was still finishing certain games, and it’s one of those things where if you’re truly bought into being on the team, you end up accepting it because that’s a huge value. … And I thought Buddy had really, really done a nice job of embracing that and making our team better.”
Hield’s playing time did take a hit following his move to the bench, but his per-minute production improved. After averaging 20.0 PPG with a .416/.360/.816 shooting line in 44 games (34.4 MPG) as a starter, Hield recorded 19.4 PPG on .465/.476/.970 shooting in 20 contests (26.6 MPG) off the bench. It remains to be seen whether the Kings plan to use him as a sixth man indefinitely, or whether he’d be fine with that.