Mike Bratz

Kings Fire Scouting Director Mike Bratz

JANUARY 6, 11:03pm: The Kings have released an official statement on Bratz, Cunningham tweets, saying, “We agreed to part ways and appreciate all of his contributions to the Kings. We wish him nothing but the best.”

JANUARY 6, 10:45pm: The Kings have decided to part ways with senior director of scouting Mike Bratztweets Sean Cunningham of station KXTV in Sacramento. Cunningham says two sources have told him about the firing, but the team hasn’t confirmed the move.

A former assistant coach with the Kings, Bratz also served as a senior advisor to GM Vlade Divac (Twitter link).

A long-time coach and executive in the NBA, Bratz was hired as assistant GM for the Kings prior to the 2013/14 season. He was director and player personnel and director of scouting for the Nuggets before coming to Sacramento and spent time as an assistant coach and executive with the Cavaliers.

Vlade Divac Denies Asking Players If Karl Should Go

6:45pm: Divac said the idea he asked the players if they wanted Karl fired is a misconception, notes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee.

“You guys make my job hard,” Divac said to reporters. “There is partial truth to a lot of what has been reported, but much of it was off. First of all, I never asked the players if I should fire Coach or said I was thinking of doing that. I walked into the locker room after [Monday’s] game and said, ‘OK, you guys don’t want to play with Coach? What’s the problem?’ I wanted to catch them by surprise a little bit and get them to talk openly about what was going on. Then the coaches came in, and we talked some more. I think it was very positive for everyone.”

THURSDAY, 10:15am: A league source who spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com disputes the idea that Divac asked Kings players if the team should get rid of Karl, though he doesn’t mention Bratz’s involvement. We have more on the Kings drama right here.

6:43pm: Divac answered affirmatively when Marc J. Spears asked him if Karl’s job is safe (Twitter link).

“Yeah,” Divac said. “Yeah. Nothing has changed, really. 1-7, we all know we’re better.”

The blame for Cousins’ tirade doesn’t rest on Karl’s shoulders, Divac also told Spears, who earlier passed on a statement from Cousins apologizing for his outburst (All four Twitter links). Divac wouldn’t say whether the team is disciplining Cousins in any way for the tirade, Spears notes (Twitter link).

“Most important thing we had after the meeting was we were on the same page, bottom line, on how to improve. That’s positive stuff,” Divac said.

5:36pm: Karl wanted to suspend Cousins for two games after the center’s Monday night verbal tirade, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays. According to Jones, Divac told the coach that he did not have authority to suspend Cousins, and Divac refused to grant Karl permission to impose the suspension.

3:15pm: Karl is indeed in jeopardy of losing his job as soon as this week, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports. Meanwhile, owners who have minority shares in the Kings are more frustrated than ever with Ranadive in large measure because he isn’t consulting with them on decisions, Amick hears from a source.

WEDNESDAY, 2:46pm: Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac and assistant GM Mike Bratz asked players during Tuesday’s team meeting whether they thought he should fire coach George Karl, reports Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead. The players weren’t sure how to respond, McIntyre adds, though Caron Butler said after the meeting that the players are behind the coach. DeMarcus Cousins verbally lit into Karl after Monday’s loss to the Spurs, though he later felt a level of regret about having done so, McIntyre also hears. Divac is under pressure as Vivek Ranadive’s interest in hiring John Calipari to both coach the team and run the front office has ramped up in recent months, according to McIntyre.

Cousins asked a couple of teammates if he had been too hard on Karl, who simply walked away at the end of the center’s rant, and they advised him not to “scream and curse” at his coach the way he had, as McIntyre details. Karl and Cousins have had an up-and-down relationship, at best, since Karl took over the team in February, with the two saying over the summer that they had patched up their differences following reports indicating that Karl wanted the team to trade Cousins and had sought to do so. Kings officials are reportedly concerned with Karl’s low energy amid a 1-7 start.

Ben McLemore expressed confusion during Tuesday’s team meeting about his role, though teammates told him it was to hit 3-pointers and defend, and that those are the responsibilities of everyone aside from Cousins and Rajon Rondo, as McIntyre details.

The Kings denied a report over the summer indicating that they had reached out to Calipari at that point, and Calipari has continually maintained that he isn’t interested in returning to the NBA, despite persistent rumors to the contrary. The team’s decisions to draft Willie Cauley-Stein, whom Calipari coached at Kentucky, and sign Rondo, who played at Kentucky before Calipari became coach there, were mostly because of Ranadive’s friendship with Calipari, McIntyre writes.

How do you see the Kings saga playing out? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Pacific Rumors: Bryant, Kings, Rivers

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant addressed their previous feuds as Lakers teammates and made it clear they now have an amicable relationship during a podcast hosted by O’Neal and his co-host John Kincade, with the transcript posted on the team’s website. O’Neal declared that his disagreements with Bryant gave both of them motivation to play their best. “I just want to clear the air and let everyone know that: No, I don’t hate you,” O’Neal said. “We had a lot of disagreements. We had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us.” Bryant reflected that his issues with O’Neal made him understand how to handle future problems with teammates. “To me, the most important thing was really to just keep your mouth shut. You don’t need to go to the press with stuff,” he said. “You keep it internal. We have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would have been avoided. … But I enjoyed playing with him. I had a great, great, great time playing with him, and I appreciate it to this day.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers will “probably” sign one to three more players before training camp, a league source told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. That will apparently include Marcelo Huertas, who agreed to a one-year deal with the club on Monday. Metta World Peace has also discussed a contract with the team, Medina adds.
  • Vlade Divac has been named Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Kings amid a number of front office personnel moves announced by the club via the team’s website. Divac had been hired in March as the club’s VP of Basketball and Franchise Operations. Mike Bratz has been named Assistant GM, Roland Beech was hired as VP of Basketball Strategy and Data Science and former Kings player Peja Stojakovic was announced as Director of Player Personnel and Development.
  • Austin Rivers has signed with ASM Sports, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal (Twitter link). Andy Miller and Andrew Vye will represent the Clippers guard. Earlier in the day, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan had dropped Relativity Sports agents Dan Fegan and Jarinn Akana as his representatives.

Odds & Ends: Rivers, Granger, Ellis, Muhammad

Doc Rivers is sold on the "new" Clippers, but still isn't sold on owner Donald Sterling.  That could be part of the delay in the two sides hammering out the final details of his contract.  A source close to Rivers told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald he was getting pulled hard in different directions last week as the Celtics and Clippers were negotiating a deal.

On one hand, Doc had coaching types telling him he had to jump at the opportunity to coach Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.  However, others told him he would be crazy to step into the asylum that has been the Clippers over the years.  Regardless, the contract seems like nothing but a formality at this point and we should see Rivers introduced as the new head man in L.A. this week.  Here's more from around the Association..

  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com hears that the Cavs are engaged in trade talks with a number of teams and sources say the ThunderTimberwolves, and Blazers have been the most proactive in trying to get the No. 1 pick.  Meanwhile, Ford still believes that Cleveland will go with Nerlens Noel if they keep the top selection.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter) asked an NBA executive for some names that are hot-and-heavy in trade talks.  The names he got back were the Pacers' Danny Granger, the Bucks' Monta Ellis (sign and trade), the RocketsThomas Robinson, and the Wizards' Jan Vesely.
  • Brian Shaw's deal with the Nuggets will be either three years or four years, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  The Nuggets hired the Indiana assistant earlier this evening.
  • A source tells Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) that UCLA product Shabazz Muhammad worked out for the Pistons today. The source said that the audition went well for the guard/forward.
  • The Wolves are still offering Derrick Williams around the league to see what they can get for him, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.  The T-Wolves reportedly believe that Williams and the No. 9 pick can vault them into the top three.
  • Recently appointed Kings assistant GM Mike Bratz said he's more of a see and "feel" guy in evaluating talent, but does use stats and analytics, tweets Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
  • Former Celtics standout Antoine Walker told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (on Twitter) that he is "serious" about becoming an NBA coach.

Nuggets To Interview Vinny Del Negro

The Nuggets will interview Vinny Del Negro this weekend for their coaching vacancy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Del Negro is the third coaching candidate to sit down this week with Tim Connelly, the Nuggets new executive vice president of basketball operations. Lionel Hollins did so on Wednesday, while Brian Shaw had his interview Tuesday.

Del Negro has been out of work for exactly a month, after he and the Clippers parted ways. A client of well-respected agent Lonnie Cooper, Del Negro has also been linked to the Celtics, who could be seeking a head coach if Doc Rivers doesn't return.

When the Clippers let go of Del Negro, they told him they'd do whatever they could to help him find his next job. It appears that policy may wind up benefiting the Clippers as much as Del Negro, since blocking Hollins and Shaw from the Nuggets job could leave them available for the Clippers, who've interviewed the two of them along with Byron Scott. The Clippers are reportedly using the availability of all three candidates as leverage in their negotiations with the Celtics over Rivers. 

The Nuggets have suffered from an exodus of coaches and executives in the past month. Former GM Masai Ujiri left to take over the Raptors front office, and Denver forced out coach George Karl. Pete D'Alessandro, who had been serving as an assistant to Ujiri in Denver, became GM of the Kings, bringing another Nuggets executive with him. Today the Kings officially hired Nuggets director of player personnel Mike Bratz as assistant GM, as Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee notes.

Odds & Ends: Rivers, Nuggets, Roc Nation

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald refers to a source that says Doc Rivers had no intention of being a part of an eventual rebuilding process with the Celtics, and that the team knew he felt that way when he signed his latest contract. The same source also said that Rivers did not intitiate the process that led to talks between Boston and the Clippers, adding that he had been contemplating between returning to coach the Celtics and stepping away from the game before team brass asked him if he was interested in any of the coaching opportunities around the league. 

According to Bulpett's source, Rivers then learned that the front office had already held preliminary discussions with the Clippers about making him available (by releasing him from his contract) and seeing what they could get in return. At that point, Rivers was reportedly intrigued at the prospect of moving west and allowed Danny Ainge to try to work out the best possible deal. In the meantime, the 51-year-old coach was given permission to see if he could reach a separate agreement with the Clippers, which he eventually did (most notably, it would allow him to have control over player personnel). 

With the deal now slowed by the fact that the agreement doesn't exactly comply with the rules of the CBA, Bulpett writes that Rivers could choose to do television work for the next one to two years rather than decide between coaching the Celtics or stepping away from the game altogether – that is, if the deal with the Clippers falls through. Interestingly enough, on the notion that Rivers had once said he'd be willing to continue coaching in Boston during a rebuilding process, some sources have called it an obligatory statement that was meant to preserve the stability of the team at the time, all while the front office would work to find pieces to complement Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce accordingly.  

As we gear up for the seventh and deciding game of the NBA Finals, here are more of tonight's miscellaneous notes from around the Association:

  • Mike Bratz, currently the director of player personnel for the Nuggets and former Kings backup point guard, has reached an agreement with Sacramento to become the team's assistant general manager (Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports).  
  • Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that shortly after firing George Karl, the Nuggets had offered the Celtics a first round draft pick as compensation to pry Rivers out of his contract. Once Denver's offer was rebuffed by Danny Ainge, they quickly moved their focus onto Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins, who both are said to have made strong impressions on team president Josh Kroenke and general manager Tim Connelly. Sources have said that at the time Kroenke had made his bid for Rivers about ten days ago, Boston was not ready to start the process of letting Rivers leave, and the negotiations never went beyond one brief conversation between Kroenke and Ainge.  
  • There has been growing confusion (as well as anger, in some cases) among outside agents about who exactly the Roc Nation Sports agency represents and which athletes are part of its partnership with CAA Sports, writes Liz Mullen of SportsBusinessDaily.com. Some agents have privately expressed anger that Roc Nation has been reported to represent athletes who are still clients of other firms. 
  • Janis Carr of the OC Register writes that Dwight Howard is still undecided on his future (subscribers only). 
  • Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News tweets that Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni will be continuing interviews to fill out the rest of his coaching staff through next week, and that much of it will depend on how the head coaching hires around the league turn out. 
  • The city of Sacramento is being asked to write its first big check toward the development of a downtown sports arena, says Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee. City development staff is expected to ask the council for $6.5MM in city funds, of which some will be used to hire a team of financial, design, and legal consultants. The team of consultants are said to be needed as the city begins negotiations on "definitive agreements" of an arena financing and construction plan with the private investment team that owns the Kings. 
  • The Grizzlies should strongly consider selecting D.J. Stephens on draft night, opines Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Kings Notes: Cousins, Snell, Bratz

Although many of our stories on the Kings so far this year have been related to Chris Hansen's attempt to buy the franchise and Sacramento's fight to keep the club in the city, the focus is beginning to shift. With a new ownership group in place, and a GM and head coach hired, the Kings can now turn their attention to figuring out how to transform a team that hasn't won more than 28 games since 2007/08 into a contender. Here's the latest out of Sacramento:

  • Asked about the Kings' new regime by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, DeMarcus Cousins replied with a "no comment." As Jones writes, Cousins has been instructed by agent Dan Fegan to stay quiet on the subject of the Kings team, management, and ownership.
  • Fegan "wants a maximum deal for his client with the threat of a trade demand looming if a deal isn't reached," according to Jones. It's not clear based on the wording if Jones is speculating about a potential trade demand or if that's coming from Fegan himself. Needless to say though, if Cousins and the Kings don't reach an agreement this offseason when the big man is extension-eligible, trade rumors will pick up in earnest.
  • In a separate piece for the Bee, Jones writes about the rising draft stock of New Mexico guard Tony Snell, and the impression Snell has made on the Kings.
  • Mike Bratz of the Nuggets is flying to Sacramento today to finalize an agreement as Pete D'Alessandro's assistant GM with the Kings, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Bratz had been serving as the director of player personnel in Denver, and becomes the latest Nuggets executive to jump ship for another team.

Several Candidates Emerge For Nuggets GM Job

Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke's strong relationship with Masai Ujiri was the primary force behind the outgoing Denver GM's hesitation to accept Toronto's five-year, $15MM offer to jump to the Raptors front office, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Nuggets were willing to give Ujiri a deal worth $1.2MM a year, according to USA Today's Sam Amick. Still, none of it was enough to convince Ujiri to stay, and now the Nuggets are the team looking for a new GM. There's early talk about several who could eventually get the job, as we detail below:

  • Nuggets assistant GM Pete D'Alessandro and director of player personnel Mike Bratz are viable options, sources tell Ken Berger of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
  • Wojnarowski speculates that the Nuggets could promote D'Alessandro or go after Cavaliers assistant GM David Griffin. The Nuggets offered Griffin the job in 2010, but he turned them down, leading Denver to turn to Ujiri.
  • Other executives who figure to be top candidates include Gersson Rosas of the Rockets, Bobby Marks of the Nets, Tim Connelly of the Pelicans, Wes Wilcox of the Hawks and Scott Perry of the Magic, according to Wojnarowski.
  • The Nuggets could have some competition if they want to go with D'Alessandro, since Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, the leading candidate to take the GM job in Sacramento, would like to hire him to work in the Kings front office, Amick reports (Twitter link). 
  • Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk interviewed well with the Kings, Amick tweets, arguing that Schlenk could be a fit in Denver if it doesn't work out for him in Sacramento.
  • Assistant GMs Tommy Sheppard of the Wizards and Jeff Weltman of the Bucks have ties to the Nuggets and bear watching as the Nuggets' search takes place, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.