At 18-16, the Kings are a half-game out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, having remained in the playoff picture throughout the first half. Asked by Sam Amick of The Athletic whether Sacramento is a playoff team, general manager Vlade Divac said the club wants to be in the postseason and will push to make it. However, the Kings aren’t “desperate” to make the playoffs, according to Divac, who suggested that the club wouldn’t sacrifice key assets to shift to win-now mode.
“If I have to do something to help them, yeah I will do it,” Divac said. “But not just from desperation and to sacrifice everything that we’ve built.”
In his conversation with Amick, Divac touched on several other topics related to the Kings’ rebuilding process, which may be ahead of schedule at this point. The Sacramento general manager revisited the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans and launched the rebuild, as well as the deal that sent the Kings’ 2019 first-round pick to Philadelphia (that pick will likely end up with Boston as a result of a separate deal).
Here are a few of the noteworthy comments from Divac:
On the decision to trade Cousins to the Pelicans for a package that featured Buddy Hield, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick:
“Look, I don’t want to go back and talk (about the trade), but I knew that second what I’m getting, bigger picture. Not just Buddy, not just the (first-round) pick, not just (the second-rounder)… But I knew also that I’m going to get down and be in the lottery, so we picked (that) course. That’s why it’s the whole picture, but people are thinking just on the surface, and I didn’t want to go back and explain and try to defend myself. I just believe in what I have to do.”
On whether he has been bothered by criticism during his tenure as Kings general manager:
“I know how to deal with that type of stuff. I just ignore (it), because those people, I know they want the best for the Kings, but they don’t know the details. They don’t know behind the curtain, they don’t know a lot of different stuff. For me, it was like, ‘OK, just give me time,’ and time came.
“I didn’t have experience as a GM, so I (supposedly) didn’t know the salary cap and somehow we end up with $50-60MM (in cap room) this summer. I was lucky, I guess. (Laughs).”
On whether the Kings are shopping for a first-round pick in the 2019 draft after having traded theirs away:
“No. Even that day when I made the deal with Philly for this (season’s) pick that’s coming, my thought process (was), ‘OK, if I’m not winning in three years, we shouldn’t deserve to have that pick,’ and I did everything to accomplish and bring players that can help DeMarcus. So I had to do crazy stuff. But I knew, if that doesn’t work I’m going to shift to Plan B, and Plan B worked. So now, I don’t need those picks. I have so many young guys that we have to develop.
“Of course, I would love to have (more picks). … I have room to do that (by taking on another team’s ‘bad’ contracts in exchange for the pick). So if I can convert (that into a pick), yes. But it’s not something (where) I’m desperate to do it. If it comes, great. If it doesn’t, I’m fine. I have other things to do.”