Vlade Divac

Western Notes: Cousins, Grizzlies, Divac, Griffin

DeMarcus Cousins suffered a left quad injury during the first quarter of the Warriors’ game against the Clippers on Monday night will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Cousins suffered the non-contact injury while making a steal. If the injury is serious, it would naturally be a major blow to Golden State’s quest for a third straight championship. The Warriors signed Andrew Bogut late in the season and his role would grow if Cousins misses significant time.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies may be more focused on front office hires than filling their head coaching vacancy, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. J.B. Bickerstaff was fired and head of basketball operations Chris Wallace was re-assigned to a scouting position last week. Jason Wexler was promoted to team president and Zach Kleiman was named executive VP of basketball operations. “Trending that way,” Wexler told Cobb about the need to fill out the front office before hiring a coach. “But at the same time, I’m not definitely saying that we’ll have a full front office as we move through the coaching search. There will be a little bit of dual-tracking, but focusing a little bit more heavily on the front office out of the gate.” There’s been no talk yet about potential candidates, as we detail in our Head Coaching Search Tracker.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac hinted at a disconnect between himself and former coach Dave Joerger during Luke Walton‘s introductory press conference on Monday. Divac, who played with Walton on the Lakers 14 seasons ago, commented that he hired someone who was “on the same page” with him. “I think coaching is the toughest job in the NBA,” he told Noel Harris of the Sacramento Bee and other media members. “Having somebody who is behind you to work together, be on the same page and share the same philosophy about the game is definitely going to help both of us.”
  • David Griffin, who was hired over the weekend to run the Pelicans’ front office, received assurances from the franchise that it would bring in reinforcements to its basketball staff, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate reports. The front office, including the scouting department, executive staff and developmental arm, will be expanded. Griffin might still hire a GM and several assistant GM to work beneath him, though he will be the ultimate decision-maker on basketball moves, Kushner adds.

Kings To Interview Walton; Messina Also On Their List

The Kings have formally requested an interview with Luke Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers on Friday, and also intend to request permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their vacant head coaching job, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. (Hat tip to USA Today’s Sam Amick).

Walton is reportedly GM Vlade Divac’s leading candidate for the job. Messina was a finalist for the Raptors’ job last season, which wound up going to Nick Nurse. He also met twice with the Bucks’ brass last season before Milwaukee chose Mike Budenholzer.

The Kings fired Dave Joerger on Thursday, even though they improved enough to win 39 games. Sixers assistant Monty Williams is also expected to get a long look from Divac.

The fact that Divac is already lining up interviews suggests he’d like to make the coaching hire quickly.

Kings Sign GM Vlade Divac To Extension

10:37am: The Kings have issued a press release officially announcing Divac’s extension through 2022/23.

“It is an exciting time to be in Sacramento and I am honored to continue my work of building towards sustained success for this franchise,” Divac said in a statement. “I believe our team has what it takes to win and make the playoffs. I want to thank (owner) Vivek (Ranadive), the entire Kings organization and the fans for all their support.”

10:29am: Divac is pushing to consolidate his power as the Kings’ top basketball executive and is seriously weighing the possibility of dismissing Joerger, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Woj, Divac and Joerger will have a meeting today.

Meanwhile, Divac is currently meeting with Williams and has decided that the assistant GM won’t be retained for next season, per Amick (Twitter link).

8:21am: The Kings have reached an agreement on a contract extension with general manager Vlade Divac, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. According to Amick, Divac’s new deal will run for four years, keeping him under contract through 2022/23. Previously, his agreement with the team was set to expire in 2020.

Although the Kings couldn’t snap their league-high 13-year playoff drought this spring, the franchise showed promising signs of growth, with second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox and third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield both enjoying career years and exhibiting All-Star potential.

Other young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, and Harry Giles also took steps forward, and Sacramento was able to add forward Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline. All of the Kings’ core players were acquired by Divac’s management group.

With the general manager now locked up to a long-term deal, the focus in Sacramento will now shift to head coach Dave Joerger, whose fate rests “solely in Divac’s hands,” sources tell Amick. Joerger has one year remaining on his own contract.

While the Kings exceeded expectations this season, the team didn’t finish particularly strong, losing 17 of its last 26 games, including a few defeats at the hands of clubs that didn’t seem to be trying too hard to win, Amick notes. Joerger also clashed with assistant GM Brandon Williams earlier in the season. Based on those factors, league insiders don’t view Joerger as a lock to return, per Amick.

Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported that the Kings and Divac were expected to explore an extension at season’s end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings, Vlade Divac Expected To Discuss Extension

The Kings are expected to open contract extension discussions with general manager Vlade Divac following the club’s regular season finale, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Divac’s current deal runs through the 2019/20 season.

Although the Kings couldn’t snap their league-high 13-year playoff drought this spring, the franchise showed promising signs of growth, with second-year point guard De’Aaron Fox and third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield both enjoying career years and flashing All-Star potential.

Other young players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, and Harry Giles also took steps forward, and Sacramento was able to add forward Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline.

With the Kings pointed in the right direction, Divac – once a target for constant criticism – deserves much of the credit for the team’s transformation, as all of the core pieces on the current roster were drafted or acquired by his management group.

While Divac appears to be in line for a new deal, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding head coach Dave Joerger and assistant GM Brandon Williams, Stein tweets. Joerger and Williams reportedly clashed this season, raising questions about whether the duo can coexist going forward.

Joerger’s current contract also expires after the 2019/20 season, and NBA teams rarely ask their head coaches to enter a season on lame-duck deals, so it will be interesting to see if Sacramento also looks to extend Joerger this offseason.

2019 Hall Of Fame Class Announced

Several former NBA stars are among the Class of 2019 for the Basketball Hall of Fame, writes Dave Campbell of The Associated Press. The announcements were made today at the site of the Final Four in Minneapolis.

Sidney Moncrief, Vlade Divac, Jack Sikma, Bobby Jones and Paul Westphal are the more modern players chosen for enshrinement, joined by Al Attles, Carl Braun and Chuck Cooper. Also headed to the Hall are coach Bill Fitch, former WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon, the Tennessee A&I men’s team that became the first back-to-back national champions in any college division from 1957-59 and the Wayland Baptist University women’s team that strung together 131 straight wins in the mid-1950s and captured 10 AAU titles overall.

Weatherspoon was chosen by the Women’s Committee, Attles was selected by the Contributor Direct Election Committee, Cooper was picked by the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Divac was the choice of the International Committee and Braun was tabbed by the Veterans Committee.

“I’m overwhelmed by this honor,” Divac said in a statement released by the Kings. “As a young man, I never would have believed the opportunities afforded to me by this great sport. “Basketball has looked after me for most of my life, and I’ve always done what I can to give back to this special community.”

The enshrinement ceremony is set for September 6 in Springfield, Mass.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Kings, Divac, Carmelo

The Warriors’ decision on what to do with their open roster spot depends on which teams they view as their biggest threats, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. While GM Bob Myers recently stated that adding another big was a priority, that could change if small-ball teams like Houston, Boston and Toronto are viewed as the primary threats to another championship. It makes more sense for Golden State to obtain another big if Utah, Denver and Oklahoma City are viewed as potential stumbling blocks. A deadline deal is unlikely, so the buyout market is a more likely source for a roster addition, Slater continues. Atlanta’s Dewayne Dedmon is a name to watch on the buyout market if the Hawks are unable to deal him, Slater adds.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings are in the market for a small forward with more size and a quality backup to point guard De’Aaron Fox, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. The Kings have been linked to Washington’s Otto Porter but the Wizards don’t appear to be in sell mode, Jones continues.  Dallas’ Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Jonathon Simmons and Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore are some of the other wings the Kings could pursue, while Atlanta’s Jeremy Lin would be a good fit at the point.
  • The perception of Kings GM Vlade Divac has changed dramatically for the better over the past two years, Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee points out. Divac was heavily criticized for the DeMarcus Cousins deal with New Orleans but it turned out Sacramento’s favor. The Kings have been one of the league’s surprise teams this season despite a modest payroll. “We’ve made a huge step forward and I’m very happy where we are now,” Divac told Breton. “We need to grow. We need time … (But) we’re not in a hurry. We’re going to go step by step.”
  • Carmelo Anthony would be a poor fit for the Lakers, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Los Angeles has been mentioned as a possible destination if the agreed-upon deal between Houston and Chicago becomes official and the Bulls waive him. Anthony would be competing for limited minutes with Michael Beasley, who is a superior rebounder and more efficient scorer. He might also take minutes away from wing players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart, who are better 3-point shooters and defenders. They’re also more comfortable playing off the ball than Anthony.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Ingles, Cousins, Shumpert, Divac

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared to practice, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The Lakers will not practice prior to their game against Houston on Saturday, so Rondo’s first practice will be delayed until at least Sunday. Rondo hasn’t played since Christmas Day due to a torn ligament in his right ring finger. Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, underwent surgery on December 28th.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers still rues the day the franchise let Joe Ingles go, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News reports. Ingles was the team’s last cut during 2014 training camp because the roster was already filled with guarantee contracts. Ingles has since emerged as a key piece for the Jazz. “I said it the day we released him that this was a bad decision and that we’re going to regret it,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately  I was working for someone who said we couldn’t eat a contract. We were begging to eat one contract and they said that will never happen and we had to let him go.”
  • The Warriors know there will be adjustment period once DeMarcus Cousins returns to action but they’re confident he’ll eventually fit in, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Like many of the team’s stars, Cousins is used to having the ball in his hands frequently. They’ll all have to learn to share it even more with a dominant low-post scorer in the lineup. “Obviously, we want him to be himself,” Stephen Curry said. “We want him to be that player that he knows he can be. Bring that specific and unique skill set to kind of change our look a little bit. We have high-IQ guys all over the floor that will be able to figure it out. It might not be smooth at the beginning because it is going to be different, but he brings another element that we’ve never had before.”
  • Kings guard Iman Shumpert denies that he tried to enter Portland’s locker room in a confrontation manner on Monday, he tweets. Shumpert was apparently upset at Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic for setting a hard pick on him but said he merely wanted to talk things out. “I was respectful of their team’s space and privacy. I waited outside and asked to have a conversation. I was greeted by team security that talked to me and I left.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac confirms that he told minority owners to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Divac made his feelings known during a conference call with members of the team’s executive board. “I just told them about my plan,” he informed Anderson. When asked if he told those owners to stop meddling and leaking stories, he replied, “Yeah, that’s my plan.”

Kings In Position To Be Active At Trade Deadline

Sacramento remains the only team in the NBA to have any cap space on its 2018/19 payroll, and as the February 7 trade deadline fast approaches, this means that the Kings are positioned to be a major player in the trade market, if they so choose, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

That being said, the Kings aren’t interested in taking on any long-term deals with their cap space unless a player on a long-term deal can help the team win now and in the future. Additionally, the team is reportedly not interested in taking on any expiring contracts to help another club save money unless assets are attached to said contract.

So, what do the Kings want? Per Ham, the Kings are motivated to add more length and size at the small forward position, while also interested in adding a veteran point guard to bring off the bench in a back-up/potential mentorship role for budding star De’Aaron Fox.

[RELATED: Kings Among Teams Interested in Jeremy Lin]

In addition to their $11MM in cap space, the Kings have the expiring contracts of Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, and Ben McLemore to worth with. Swingman Iman Shumpert is also in the final year of his contract, but has provided a veteran spark to a young team still competing for a playoff spot. Then again, Shumpert is only 6’5″ and plays small forward. As mentioned above, the team is interested in adding length to that position, so Shumpert could also be expendable if an attractive enough deal comes along.

As for the Kings’ current assets, Sacramento has no interest in moving any of its young talent (e.g. Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, or Buddy Hield) unless it means the team is making a massive long-term investment in a star-level player. And even then, the aforementioned core group of youngsters is close to untouchable.

In Ham’s view, general manager Vlade Divac should look to be active, as Sacramento has worked hard to be a player in the trade market and is the only team with cap space to use. However, the Kings should also be wary of using that cap space to take on future money that could eat into future cap room. Ultimately, Ham would be surprised to see no moves made before the deadline.

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.

Vlade Divac Talks Playoffs, Cousins Trade, Future

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.”