Joe Dumars

Kings’ McNair Talks Walton, Fox, Dumars, Hield

When new Kings general manager Monte McNair was introduced to the media earlier this week, one of the first things he did was confirm that head coach Luke Walton will remain in his current position for the 2020/21 season, as we relayed on Wednesday.

While McNair admitted he had no preexisting relationship with Walton, he told reporters – including Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee – that the two men have a number of mutual friends and have been in contact within the last few days. McNair added that he has heard “great things” about the Kings’ head coach and is “really excited” to begin working with him.

McNair’s introductory press conference didn’t include any bombshells, but Sacramento’s new head of basketball operations shared a few more interesting observations and comments about the club. Here are a few highlights from the former Rockets executive, as detailed in a pair of Sacramento Bee articles by Anderson:

On whether he intends to push for a playoff spot or take a step back in the Kings’ rebuilding process:

“I think our goal is going to be to compete hard and start building these winning habits. We need to be more consistent and going forward we’re going to maintain our flexibility. Obviously we want to compete for the playoffs but we know we have some work to do, so my goal is to keep that flexibility and be aggressive whenever the time comes to improve the team.

“In Houston I learned a lot. We went through many different stages and ultimately became a contender, so I’ll learn from that. I think No. 1, we have to stay flexible and we can’t pigeonhole ourselves. There are a lot of ways to improve the team and what we need to do is be ready for whatever the opportunity and whenever it arises so we can capitalize.”

On the style of play he envisions for the Kings:

“I think (De’Aaron Fox‘s) speed and ability offensively to create really is going to be a huge catalyst for how Coach Walton and I envision this team being up tempo, creating the space to shoot threes and attack the rim, and I think we’re excited to get going on that.

“… I think in Houston, obviously, we pushed some things to the extreme. That was partly due to our personnel there. There are some tenets that will apply here. We’re definitely going to play fast. We’re going to space the floor. But there’s a lot of versatility and talent on this roster, so I think that will dictate how we build the team.”

On Joe Dumars’ new role as the Kings’ chief strategy officer:

“Joe’s going to assist (team owner) Vivek (Ranadive) in all aspects of the organization – business, basketball … I was hired to be head of basketball operations. That’s what I’m going to do. But Joe’s been a great player on the court. He’s been a general manager and he’ll be a great resource for me.”

On Buddy Hield, who has been the subject of trade speculation:

“I think we all know in this league spacing is of the utmost importance and Buddy is one of the absolute elite shooters in this league, and we’re going to be able to utilize that skill set as we implement our system.”

Kings Hire Monte McNair As Head Of Basketball Operations

SEPTEMBER 17: The Kings have officially announced the hiring of McNair as their new general manager, confirming that he’ll be responsible for basketball decisions and will report directly to team ownership.

“Monte is one of the NBA’s top basketball minds who has played an instrumental role in building several winning teams in Houston,” Ranadive said in a statement. “I am excited to bring his extensive experience and vision onboard to lead our basketball operations department, and it is my pleasure to welcome Monte and his family to Sacramento.”

Meanwhile, the Kings announced in a separate press release that Dumars has been named the club’s chief strategy officer and will “drive strategy” across several areas of the organization, including both business and basketball operations.


SEPTEMBER 16: The Kings are hiring Rockets assistant general manager Monte McNair as their new head of basketball operations, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

McNair has worked for the Rockets under general manager Daryl Morey for over a decade, having originally been hired to the basketball operations department in 2007.

After initially working as an analyst and spending time with the franchise’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, McNair was elevated to a director of basketball operations role in 2013. He became the Rockets’ vice president of basketball operations in 2015 before being promoted to assistant GM in 2018.

Following the dismissal of general manager Vlade Divac, the Kings made Joe Dumars their interim executive vice president of basketball operations, but had been on the lookout for someone to run the front office on a permanent basis.

McNair was one of six candidates identified by Sacramento as the team sought a replacement for Divac. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Nuggets GM Calvin Booth, and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon withdrew from consideration, leaving McNair, Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox as finalists.

While we’ll have to wait for an official statement and more details from the Kings, the expectation is that McNair will have the final say on basketball decisions and will report directly to team owner Vivek Ranadive.

This represents the second consecutive year that Houston has lost a top executive to a rival organization. Gersson Rosas left the Rockets to become the Timberwolves’ head of basketball operations in 2019.

Latest On Kings’ Front Office Search

As expected, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth has withdrawn from the Kings‘ search for a new head of basketball operations, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Following a weekend report that Booth would remove his name from consideration, word broke on Sunday that he had met with Sacramento after all, but his level of interest in the position was unclear and he didn’t move on to the second round of interviews.

With Booth – along with Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Heat assistant GM Adam Simon – out of the running, Sacramento is expected to make a hire from a group of finalists that includes Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair, and former Hawks executive Wes Wilcox, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that a decision may be finalized this week.

As Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes, Gupta, McNair, and Wilcox advanced to the second round of interviews with the Kings this week. It’s unclear exactly which Kings executives are participating in those interviews — Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Sunday that interim head of basketball operations Joe Dumars isn’t taking part, but Carmichael Dave of KHTK hears that Dumars is, in fact, sitting in on the in-person meetings.

It’s also not clear whether there’s a frontrunner in the process. Dave hears that there’s “strong movement” in Sacramento toward hiring Gupta as head of basketball operations, with McNair coming aboard as his top lieutenant. However, a source tells James Ham of NBC Sports California that the Kings haven’t made any final decisions yet.

Ham adds that whoever Sacramento ultimately hires will have the option of hiring another executive to “help fill the gaps in the front office.” While that person could be McNair, the decision will be up to whoever lands the top job, says Ham.

On one key point, all reporters appear to be in agreement — the Kings’ new hire will gain full control of basketball decisions and will report directly to team owner Vivek Ranadive.

Pacific Notes: Kings’ GM Search, Harrell, Markieff Morris, KCP

The Kings will begin a second round of interviews soon in their search for a new head of basketball operations, but sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that executive vice president Joe Dumars won’t be involved in the interview process (Twitter link). Owner Vivek Ranadive and Mike Forde of Sportsology, an outside firm hired to conduct the search, will handle the interviews.

Dumars has been a strong voice in the front office since joining the team as a special advisor, and Ranadive envisioned a power-sharing arrangement with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac rejected that idea and resigned from the organization last month.

Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon (link), Heat assistant GM Adam Simon (link) and Nuggets GM Calvin Booth (link) have all reportedly pulled their names out of the search, but the remaining three candidates are set to travel to Sacramento for in-person interviews, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. They are Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers need to decide whether they should continue giving regular minutes to Montrezl Harrell, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Sixth Man of the Year had a minus-13 rating in six fourth-quarter minutes in the Game 5 loss to Denver and was minus-19 for the second half. Harrell ranks last on the team in the postseason in both plus-minus and net rating and has seen his rebound percentage fall sharply. Buha notes that Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been targeting Harrell on defense, inserting Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. whenever he enters the game.
  • Midseason addition Markieff Morris proved his worth for the Lakers in the series with Houston, observes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. After a lackluster performance against Portland in the first round, Morris was a difference maker against the Rockets. He turned around Game 2 with four 3-pointers in three minutes, earning a spot in the starting lineup and relegating Dwight Howard to the bench.
  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope received a $50K bonus for reaching the conference finals, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN, who adds that KCP will carry an $8.54MM cap hit if he opts into his contract for next season.

California Notes: George, Kings GM Search, Divac, Lakers/Clippers

Star Clippers forward Paul George dealt with a rough four-game offensive showing during Los Angeles’ first-round series against the Mavericks. He bounced back with an incredibly efficient 35-point performance in Game 5 across just 25 minutes on Tuesday. George cites struggles with depression and anxiety living within the NBA’s Orlando restart campus as factors in his difficulty during the series, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reports.

“I underestimated mental health, honestly,” George said in a TNT interview that Youngmisuk recapped. “I had anxiety. A little bit of depression. Just being locked in here. I just wasn’t there… Games 2, 3, 4, I wasn’t there. I felt like I wasn’t there. Shout-out to the people that were in my corner, that gave me words.”

There are more NBA notes out of California:

  • The Kings have begun their search for a new general manager after firing GM Vlade Divac, though there appear to have been no interviews with candidates as of yet, per Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. If no one gets hired ahead of the NBA draft (tentatively scheduled for October 16) or the beginning of free agency (October 18), interim executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars would be at the reins for those decision-making processes.
  • Kings small forward Harrison Barnes, who received a four-year, $85MM contract from Divac last summer, opines that the former GM laid a promising foundation for Sacramento during his tenure, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California. “I’m definitely thankful for all that Vlade’s done, not only for me, but for the Kings,” Barnes said. “I think with the talent he’s brought in, the work he’s done, he’s definitely set this franchise up to be successful.” The Kings posted a 162-238 win-loss record with Divac at the helm since 2015.
  • As we previously detailed, the Lakers and Clippers voted last night to strike for the rest of the 2019/20 NBA playoffs in response to the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers in Kenosha, but the 11 other remaining NBA playoff teams voted to keep playing. In a follow-up meeting today, players ultimately decided to resume playoff participation tomorrow or Saturday.

Joe Dumars Won’t Be A Candidate In Kings’ Front Office Search

Last week’s shakeup left Joe Dumars in charge of the Kings‘ front office, but that’s not a role he wants to keep long-term, according to Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dumars has no interest in remaining Sacramento’s head of basketball operations and will not be a candidate in the upcoming search, the authors report. However, he will be included in the hiring process and will interview candidates along with owner Vivek Ranadive. The new GM will have full control of roster moves and will report directly to Ranadive, rather than Dumars.

The Kings haven’t determined what Dumars’ role with the franchise will be once a new GM is selected, which could become a “problematic component,” Amick and Charania add. There’s no timeline to fill the opening, so Dumars and assistant GM Ken Catanella could be making the draft and free agency decisions in October.

Mike Forde of Sportsology is expected to be the leader in the search for GM candidates. He formerly served as senior manager for Chelsea’s soccer franchise in the English Premier League, and his web site lists the Clippers, Spurs, Sixers and Nets as clients. He also worked as an adviser for the Wizards last spring after they fired Ernie Grunfeld as president of basketball operations.

When he hired Dumars, Ranadive reportedly envisioned a power-sharing arrangement in the front office with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac wasn’t willing to accept that and opted to resign, followed a day later by assistant GM Peja Stojakovic.

The authors note there is “significant interest” in the position around the league, despite concerns about what Dumars’ ultimate role might be. “A swell of support” has emerged for Knicks GM Scott Perry, who briefly served as VP of basketball operations in Sacramento before leaving for New York. Sources claim Ranadive and Perry are still on good terms and have remained in touch in the nearly three years since Perry’s departure.

Perry helped the Kings get an individual workout with De’Aaron Fox before the 2017 draft and improved the organization’s reputation through his close relationships with agents and executives. Perry still has a year left on his contract, but a source tells the authors he would be interested in returning to Sacramento as long as he’s guaranteed the final decision on personnel moves. The Kings would have to request permission from the Knicks to talk to Perry, which sources tell Amick and Charania they hadn’t done as of Tuesday night.

The authors list Clippers assistant GMs Mark Hughes and Trent Redden as other candidates to watch, along with Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Celtics VP of basketball operations Mike Zarren, Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Trajan Langdon, Timberwolves executive VP of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, and Rockets assistant GM Eli Witus.

Latest On Kings’ GM Search

The Kings appear likely to hire an executive search firm to help them find a new permanent general manager following Vlade Divac‘s departure, league sources tell Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, according to Anderson, several names have already been connected to the position as possible targets for Saramento.

Anderson identifies Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, Knicks GM Scott Perry, Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, and Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden as executives who may be on the Kings’ preliminary list of candidates.

Sean Cunningham of ABC10, who singled out many of those same execs as ones to watch, mentioned veteran agent Bill Duffy as another possibility (Twitter link). However, Duffy indicated today that he currently has no plans to follow in the footsteps of Bob Myers, Leon Rose, and other agents who have made the move to a team’s front office.

“There’s no truth to me joining an NBA organization,” Duffy told Jason Jones and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I’m fully committed to my clients and their success.”

Joe Dumars, who is the Kings’ interim head of basketball operations, will be involved in the search for a new GM, though team owner Vivek Ranadive and COO Matina Kolokotronis are “viewed as the ultimate decision makers,” Anderson writes.

Anderson also notes that it will be interesting to see what sort of role Dumars ultimately retains in the front office, since Divac’s departure stemmed from Ranadive’s desire to have the former Pistons GM take on a larger role and to have the final say on the roster. Sources tell Anderson that some qualified candidates may be reluctant to fill Sacramento’s GM opening if it doesn’t come with full control over the roster.

Kings’ Vlade Divac Stepping Down From GM Position

Kings general manager Vlade Divac is stepping down from his current position in the front office, reports Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Joe Dumars, who had been serving as a special advisor, will become the team’s interim executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, according to Amick, who adds that Dumars will be involved in the search for Sacramento’s next GM.

The Kings have announced Divac’s departure and Dumars’ new role, issuing a press release to confirm the news. The wording of a statement from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive suggests the team may have had a hand in Divac’s decision to “step down.”

“This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is the best path ahead as we work to build a winning team that our loyal fans deserve,” Ranadive said. “We are thankful for Vlade’s leadership, commitment, and hard work both on and off the court. He will always be a part of our Kings family.”

News of the Kings’ front office shakeup comes on the heels of a report suggesting Divac’s job likely wouldn’t be in danger, since he still had three years left on his contract. Based on the framing of his departure as a resignation, it’s unclear whether Divac will be paid some or all of his remaining salary.

Divac joined the Kings in March 2015 and was promoted to the general manager position just a few months later. Over the course of his five years in Sacramento’s front office, Divac has had his ups and downs. He got a solid return – including Buddy Hield – when he traded DeMarcus Cousins, and drafted a potential franchise cornerstone in 2017, snaring De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 pick.

However, Divac has been unable to add enough talent to turn Sacramento into a playoff team — the Kings’ 39-43 record a year ago was their best mark since 2006, the last year they made the playoffs. A handful of questionable roster and draft decisions during Divac’s tenure have hurt the club.

The most memorable misstep came during the 2018 draft, when the Kings passed on Luka Doncic to take Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick. Bagley was hampered by injuries this year and has yet to develop into a reliable NBA contributor, while Doncic won Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 and was a legitimate MVP candidate in his second professional season.

Although the Kings will seek a new general manager, they’re hopeful that their interim structure will provide enough stability through the draft and free agency, and may not fill the GM opening until after the draft, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter links). Dumars could be considered for the permanent job if he’s interested, Spears adds (via Twitter).

Meanwhile, Amick reports (via Twitter) that head coach Luke Walton‘s job remains safe despite the upheaval in the front office. Even though Walton was hand-picked by Divac, there “won’t be another domino falling here,” according to Amick.

While Walton appears safe for at least next season, James Ham of NBC Sports California suggests (via Twitter) that the new GM will likely be permitted to decide on the fates of some staff members, including executives Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Notes: Divac, Walton, Dumars, Hield, Giles

Despite the Kings‘ disappointing season, there’s still no indication that general manager Vlade Divac or head coach Luke Walton are in any danger of losing their jobs, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As Amick notes, both Divac and Walton have three years remaining on their contracts, so the idea of replacing either of them isn’t particularly appealing from a financial perspective. The Kings have suffered significant losses related to the real estate they control around their arena and have had to make business operations layoffs, sources tell Amick.

Still, the pressure on Divac is increasing, according to Amick, who suggests that advisor Joe Dumars has become a “valued voice” for owner Vivek Ranadive and may have an increased role going forward. Sources tell The Athletic that the Divac/Dumars relationship is good, but Amick says he wouldn’t be surprised to see minor front office changes made this offseason, including perhaps an addition to the current group.

Here’s more on the Kings:

  • Within his article linked above, Amick writes that a midseason role change – from starter to sixth man – was “known to displease” Buddy Hield. Asked today after the Kings’ final game if he can be content with that role moving forward, Hield didn’t give a direct answer, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).
  • Over at the The Sacramento Bee, Anderson takes a look at whether former first-round pick Harry Giles may have played his final game for the Kings today.
  • Greg Wissinger, writing for the Sacramento Bee, expresses confusion that the Kings didn’t pivot more strongly to focusing on player development once they were eliminated from the postseason over the weekend, suggesting that they’ve been playing recently with “no clear objective.”
  • James Ham of NBC Sports California previews some key offseason deadlines from a Kings perspective, including Nemanja Bjelica‘s October 17 salary guarantee date.

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”