The stunning departure of Chris Granger, who resigned as Kings’ president Monday to pursue other challenges, is a major loss to both the franchise and the community. If the Golden 1 Center is his crowning achievement – and it is – the former executive has been a soothing, stabilizing presence since he was first dispatched by former NBA Commissioner David Stern to oversee the Kings’ marketing and ticket sales divisions decimated during the Maloofs’ repeated attempts to relocate the franchise.
Eminently approachable and polite, Granger mingled with patrons, fielded complaints, checked on all the details – everything from the length of the lines at restrooms and concession stands to the positioning of the bike racks outside the main entrance. “I’m really sad Chris is leaving,” Ranadive said Monday afternoon from his cell phone, “but when I recruited him, I also knew it wasn’t going to be forever. He built the arena. He stayed a year (afterward). I told him, ‘I’d like to keep you, but I also understand you don’t want to be selling sponsorships your whole life.’ He’s a big time guy.”
That was the deal-maker, the Divac proclamation. The Kings were unwilling to invest an estimated $200 million in a Cousins extension and no longer content to half-step the rebuilding process. They were all in. The owners, the front office executives, the picks and the shovels. “In some respects, I was relieved,” Divac said. “When I got here (February 2015), and then Pete (D’Alessandro) left just before the draft, I wanted to study everything and not make quick decisions I would regret. I put myself into working with George (Karl), DeMarcus. But when I realized it wasn’t going to work, I thought, ‘Go young and start over.’ ”
The much-debated Cousins deal was his trade. The directive to audition the younger players for the final weeks of the season came from his lips. The draft selections and/or draft day swaps – same as they were in 2015 and 2016 – will be his decisions. The hiring last week of Luke Bornn as vice-president of analytics and Scott Perry as executive vice president of basketball operations were his calls. “I knew the staff I wanted to put together,” Divac said the other day. “There was always so much (drama) going on ever since I got here, it took up a lot of my time. Finally I have been able to find people who believe in what we are trying to do and who I am very comfortable with. I like our staff very much now, with Scott (Perry), Luke (Bornn), Ken (Catanella), Mike (Bratz), Peja (Stojakovic). We filled some holes.”
But what most attracted Divac to Bornn was his ability to synthesize data and succinctly present information. Though Divac and head coach Dave Joerger value analytics as a tool in acquiring talent and coaching teams, neither perceives players as widgets nor believes players can be pieced together on assembly lines. “Basketball is not science,” Divac said. “You have talent, you develop your players, you play hard. But you want to get players who complement each other, and analytics helps in that regard. Marc Gasol the other day said stats are killing the game because a lot of stuff that’s important can’t be quantified. Luke is able to identify what’s important and explain things in language we can understand.”
“Basketball is not science,” Divac said. “You have talent, you develop your players, you play hard. But you want to get players who complement each other, and analytics helps in that regard. Marc Gasol the other day said stats are killing the game because a lot of stuff that’s important can’t be quantified. Luke is able to identify what’s important and explain things in language we can understand.” The addition of Perry, 53, is even more significant given his prominent role as Divac’s right-hand man, coupled with his experience in both the NBA and college ranks. Described as diligent, engaging and extremely intelligent, the new vice president thus fills that gaping hole in the front office. That he can schmooze with the best of them is no small attribute. The most successful NBA teams have someone – or sometimes more than one individual – whose relationships with college coaches, international and NBA executives and scouts afford access to practices, counselors, tutors, and, ultimately, to invaluable inside information.
“I like the direction we’re going,” Divac said. “I keep hearing that we have a weak front office, and I’ll take all the criticism. But I don’t think that’s true. Our young guys got better, the chemistry improved, you could see progress. Now we are in position, because of good cap space, our picks and possible trades, to do some things. And we will be active. We don’t just want to build a team to get the eighth seed. We want to be more than that. We want to be the Kings that we were before – contenders for a title. We are working for that.”
According to numerous league insiders, NBA team executives have found it difficult to negotiate with the Kings because of their thin and inexperienced front office. The Kings had also struggled in recent offseasons to schedule visits and workouts from top draft prospects, even while holding a top-10 draft pick. No lottery picks worked out for the Kings last year. Adding the well-respected Perry gives the Kings an executive who knows the league well and can help Divac navigate what will be another important offseason.
The Sacramento Kings today hired Scott Perry as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, according to General Manager Vlade Divac. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Perry will report directly to Divac and assist in all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the Kings front office, including roster management and development, player personnel matters, scouting strategy and free agency negotiations.
“I'm thrilled that Scott will be joining our front office team,” said Divac. “His extensive experience in the league and management talents will help build on our progress are we work to develop a winning franchise.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sacramento is hiring Scott Perry to a high-ranking front office job, league sources tell @The Vertical.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Perry will join Kings as Executive VP and work closely w/ Vlade Divac, league sources said. Perry spent past 5 years as Magic assistant GM.
Sam Amick: Perry was previously assistant GM in Orlando, but was let go when GM Rob Hennigan was fired recently. @Adrian Wojnarowski first on the hiring.
Jeff Zillgitt: Kings' new VP of strategy and analytics Luke Bornn was head of analytics for A.S. Roma of Italy's Serie A soccer league. pic.twitter.com/0f0ya0G9ny
Sam Amick: Kings announce hiring of @LukeBornn as VP of Strategy & Analytics. Very interesting... pic.twitter.com/dNjJeI6sgp
Roland Beech: Sources: After two years in Sacramento, Roland Beech, VP of Basketball Results, leaving Kings. Beech was well-paid analytics hire from Mavs.
Divac also did not rule out adding to the front office. Assistant general manager Ken Catanella was added last offseason. “We’re open, always, to improve,” Divac said. “The team, the front office, everything is always open for improvement. I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but we should be open if something can make you better.”
Chris Mannix: It was reported last week that the Kings are talking to Sam Hinkie and, in a general sense, they are looking for an executive to put above Vlade Divac. Now, Sacramento came out and inmediately denied that was happenning. They're lying.
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has shown interest in finding a front-office executive to usurp Vlade Divac’s authority and turn the franchise’s general manager into a “figurehead,” league sources told The Vertical. In a contradictory move on the day that league sources say Sacramento received formal permission to meet with former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, the Kings quickly issued a public statement saying, “The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in over Vlade.”
Nevertheless, Ranadive has been canvassing the NBA for possible candidates and has been mostly intrigued with Hinkie, who is living in the Northern California area now. There has been discussion at the Kings’ ownership level about keeping Divac in a player-personnel role, but transferring the overall management of basketball operations to someone else, league sources said.
Hinkie had been cautious in his interest with Sacramento, league sources said, but GM jobs are rare in availability, and as dysfunctional as Ranadive’s tenure has been, there’s no guarantee that Hinkie will have the chance to take over another franchise.
Jason Jones: Another name to remember: If the talk about bringing in another exec continues, you'll probably hear Jason Levien's name come up.
Kristian Winfield: Same Kings who said multiple times they had no plans to move DeMarcus Cousins before the trade deadline. - RT: Sam Amick: Statement from Kings on ESPN's Sam Hinkie report: "The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in above Vlade."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kings: "The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in above Vlade." (They're searching for someone above Vlade).
The Sacramento Kings have expressed exploratory interest in former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive sought and received permission directly from Sixers counterpart Josh Harris to speak with Hinkie.
Sources say Hinkie has long intrigued Ranadive, whose franchise has been thrust into a rebuilding mode not unlike Philadelphia's status under Hinkie in the wake of trading DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans. Neither Hinkie's level of interest in a position with Sacramento, nor the sort of role Ranadive envisions for Hinkie in a front office currently run by popular former Kings player Vlade Divac, was immediately known.
Marc Stein: Story posting now: League sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me that the Kings have received permission to speak to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie.
Marc Stein: League sources say Kings have interest in bringing Hinkie into their front office. Neither exact role nor Hinkie's interest level yet known
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has been quietly searching for an executive to place over Vlade Divac, league sources tell @The Vertical.
Adrian Wojnarowski: As ESPN reports, Sam Hinkie is a target. Ranadive has casually talked with Hinkie, sources say, but Hinkie unsure his interest in job there.
Adrian Wojnarowski: From Sac's minority owners and NBA, there's been pressure on Ranadive to make Kings front office more professional -- starting at top.
Is there any part of you that wants to talk to Ranadive or Divac? DeMarcus Cousins: Nah. For what? It was a coward move, so I’m pretty sure I will get a coward response. For what? And I’ve seen this happen before. I’ve been there through all same types … I was there with [coach] Mike Malone’s [firing]. I’ve seen how they operate. I know what kind of answer I will get anyway. So, what is the point?
A person close to Cousins said he was “blown” by the trade for myriad reasons. Losing nearly $30 million because he won’t be able to sign a designated maximum player contract worth more than $200 million was significant but only part of his frustration. Kings general manager Vlade Divac had told Cousins days before the deal that he wouldn’t be traded, only to ship him out for an uninspiring package from the Pelicans. Over the past few years, Cousins had developed a deep distrust of team management, which often told him one thing and did another.
Adrian Wojnarowski: (Vlade Divac's) M.O. as a GM is not to be on the phone with everybody on the league, and to be pursing out different deals. He has not embraced that part of the job, to put it mildly. He's difficult to get on the phone for a lot of GMs.
Sean Cunningham: Most telling quote from Kings GM Vlade Divac in that statement: "Winning begins with culture and character matters."
The Kings attempted to recruit longtime team executive David Morway, who had previously been with the Milwaukee Bucks and now consults for the Utah Jazz, to serve as Divac's deputy. Discussions fizzled when Morway couldn't get iron-clad assurances the organization would pony up sufficient dollars to upgrade its lean infrastructure in areas such as analytics, medical and player development. In April, the Kings ultimately settled on Ken Catanella, who spent the previous five seasons in the Detroit front office and is well-versed in the salary cap and a devotee of analytics. Observers wonder whether Ranadive will defer to Divac and Catanella -- and director of scouting Mike Bratz -- enough to break up a long string of decisions that didn't pan out.
There is little optimism that Ranadive will voluntarily step back from basketball operations. Though he insists in conversations that Divac has been empowered to make player personnel decisions -- he told one source that the only decisions he has made are trading for Gay and refusing to deal Cousins -- not a single league source for this story outside of Sacramento said that ultimate authority resides anywhere but with Ranadive.
And they have to stay on message. Within the past two weeks, three different team executives complained the Kings once again were sending mixed signals. Divac was receptive to moving Cousins, while Ranadive was still meddling and still leaning toward keeping Boogie.
Sources close to the Kings' nerve center say chief operating officer Matina Kolokotronis was the catalyst behind Divac's hire. "She's the only person in the organization that Vivek really trusts," says a longtime league executive. "She's the connective tissue of the organization. Her institutional knowledge is second to none, and she's politically wired in Sacramento. She knows where every body is buried." Now in her 20th season with the Kings, Kolokotronis is the team's one-woman ode to continuity. She has done it all, including negotiating player contracts, housing international players in her guest house, running the team's foundation and working the back channels of Sacramento's civic power structure. Her critics see her as a consigliere who is far too involved in basketball matters.
Sources say that Kolokotronis saw Divac's predecessors in management, Pete D'Alessandro and Chris Mullin, as driven by self-interest and prone to cracking on Ranadive on background to the media. League sources say that after the NBA's vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe declined an offer from the team following general manager D'Alessandro's departure in June 2015, the Kings turned to Divac in the name of finding someone who would be loyal to Ranadive at a moment when the franchise's favorability ratings needed a boost.
What they didn't get was someone with his finger on the pulse of the team-building arcana. By way of example, league sources say -- and Divac denies -- that when the Kings and Sixers struck a deal to send Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia, Divac was surprised to learn that the trade had to be confirmed on a conference call with the league. Multiple agents express astonishment at how poorly versed Divac is in the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.
Sean Cunningham: Interesting. Levien met with Kings ownership earlier in off-season. Was around briefly under Geoff Petrie. twitter.com/ailene_voisin/…
Jason Jones: The bosses allowing me a football Sunday. But yeah, Kings aren't looking to trade anyone right now, especially players on rookie deals
Jason Jones: Chris Webber talks about thinking about a front office career, interviewing for Kings pic.twitter.com/wYAeTxCjnJ
Ranadive – who initiated the spat early last week by claiming, among other things, that none of the coaches or the general manager wanted to remain with the franchise he purchased from the Maloofs in May 2013 – contacted The Bee late Friday and offered what sounded like a combination act of contrition and concession speech. “I wanted to sincerely apologize to Geoff Petrie and his team,” the owner began, speaking softly. “I meant no disrespect. I have the utmost respect for what they have done for the franchise and what they have accomplished. I fully understand that it’s a huge privilege to own a basketball team, and as chairman of the ownership, the buck stops with me. I accept responsibility for everything. All the mistakes are my mistakes.”
Petrie and his front office staffers stayed around during the chaotic, time-compressed ownership transition to scout players and help incoming coach Michael Malone work out prospects before the June 27 NBA draft. “When it comes to some of the representations about myself and Keith Smart, and the management group that was there at the time,” Petrie vented to Deadspin, “it was basically, totally untrue. I brought everybody together at different occasions and said, ‘Look, we’re going to be professional here. We’re going to continue to work like we would every other year, and ultimately we will assist any new people that may come in here and try and make them comfortable and get situated.’ ”
League sources have told KFBK that Ranadive’s repeated calls to the NBA league office -- "telling the league how to do its job better" are being met with "avoidance" and "reluctance" to be returned. Sacramento is mired in a 10-year playoff drought that former Kings player and current VP of basketball operations, Vlade Divac is trying to end. Divac is attempting to restore the franchise to its glory days building around All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.
A self-described “irritant,” Ranadive is now on his fourth coach in his three years of ownership. Fired Saturday by the Grizzlies, Joerger replaces the fifth-winningest coach in NBA history in George Karl, who went 33-49 this season and 44-68 overall, in his short tenure in California’s capital city.
But the Kings have done two smart things in the past two weeks: hiring Ken Catanella from the Pistons as assistant general manager, and snaring Joerger. Both hiring processes were a little messy. The race for the spot that eventually went to Catanella was marred by miscommunication, per several league sources. Coaches asked out of the Kings' hiring process, and others simply used them as leverage to prove they could make the short list of at least one team.
Q: What do you make of the reports that Wallace interviewed for a front office job with Sacramento? A: I’m not sure what to make of them. Wallace has flatly denied the reports. Other Grizzlies sources have said they’re not true. But it wasn’t some rinky-dink outfit reporting this. It was USA Today and ESPN. I also talked to a source on the Sacramento side, who not only said Wallace interviewed for a job, he entered into contract negotiations and would have taken the gig except the Kings decided to go another way. Logic would tell you it makes no sense for Wallace to take a lesser job with the Kings, but logic would also tell you that ESPN and USA Today don’t just make things up.
Brian Geltzeiler: League sources also told http://Hoopscritic.com that ultimately Vlade hired Catanella because he came at a cheaper price and was no threat
Marc Stein: NBA sources say Grizz GM Chris Wallace secured permission to pursue the Kings' recent front-office vacancy before Sacramento pursued Joerger
Marc Stein: The Kings wound up hiring Detroit's Ken Catanella after talks with both Wallace and David Morway, then proceeded to their coaching search.
Sometimes there appears to be a civil war among basketball’s executives. On one side are the “basketball guys,” the old-school minds who trust their eyes for their evaluations and are considered dinosaurs by the younger generation. On the other side is the analytics crowd, the numbers guys the older generation sarcastically says judge players with calculators because they don’t know the game. Then there’s Ken Catanella. Catanella, hired Thursday by the Kings as assistant general manager, is caught between the two, making him ideal for the new role. The Kings have been searching for someone who knows the NBA salary cap and the collective bargaining agreement to help general manager Vlade Divac.
Sacramento Kings Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Vlade Divac announced today that the team has named Ken Catanella as Assistant General Manager.
“We are focused on building a winning team and part of that process is ensuring we have a sound front office structure,” said Divac. “We are thrilled that Ken Catanella is joining the Kings to help us build on our progress and drive success on the court. Ken’s unique statistical and player expertise will provide a significant boost to our basketball operations team.”
The Sacramento Kings are about to check a big box from their long list of summer needs. CSN California has confirmed that the Kings are in advanced negotiations to add Detroit Pistons assistant general manager Ken Catanella to their front office staff.
The Sacramento Kings intend to hire Detroit Pistons executive Ken Catanella as their new assistant general manager, according to league sources.
Sources say Mike Bratz will remain with the club as adviser to the GM and director of scouting. He has developed a strong rapport with Divac since Divac returned to the organization last season.
While the coaching search is in its fledgling state, the search for front office help has taken a step backwards. David Morway, who worked for both the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks in the past has been in conversations to join the team for some time. But CSN has confirmed that he is no longer a candidate for the job.
Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac has been conducting the meetings and is expected to have the strongest voice in the eventual hiring.
The Kings have been steadily working on an agreement to hire David Morway into a top front-office position under Vlade Divac, but no contract has been finalized, sources said. Morway had a successful run as the general manager of the Indiana Pacers under president Larry Bird and mostly recently had been the assistant general manager in Milwaukee.
Divac said his greatest basketball experience was playing for the Kings from 1998 to 2004, a time that offered refuge from his war-torn Serbian homeland. That was real-life stress. Not that this season hasn’t been taxing. “Stressful?” Divac said. “Look, it’s a time where you want to build something. Stress? Come on. This is basketball. It’s sports; it’s fun. You want to create that environment. Are we having fun? No, not yet. My goal is to create a team that will have fun and play hard for the best fans in the league. They deserve better.”
Divac said he has learned his role as GM on the fly, beyond player evaluation and crunching salary data. “I know what I know, and I don’t know what I don’t know,” Divac said with a laugh. “It’s been a great experience. It’s a wonderful place to work. I feel confident in this position. We are moving forward. It’s not what we wanted in terms of results. This team, with the talent we put together last summer, should’ve been in the playoffs. We obviously didn’t do that. After the season, we’ll find what was the problem and fix it.”
Ailene Voisin: Kings VP Vlade Divac signed his multi-year contract and immediately left to scout for five days in Europe.
January 19, 2022 | 4:56 pm EST Update
The Sacramento Kings organization has a current mindset: They are not trading guard De’Aaron Fox, sources tell The Athletic.
The Kings remain active in trade conversations, informing teams in the marketplace that they want to build around Fox and second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton, sources said. The Kings have informed Fox and his representation, agent Chris Gaston of Family First Sports, that they do not want to trade him and want to center the team around him and Haliburton. Team sources said any potential deal around Fox for Pacers center Domantas Sabonis will not happen.
Joe Mussatto: Derrick Favors (lower back soreness) is out tonight against the Spurs. Kenrich Williams is still in health and safety protocols. Vit Krejci (right ankle sprain) remains out. Maledon, Roby, Pokusevski and Watson are on G League assignment.
January 19, 2022 | 4:08 pm EST Update
One source said Sacramento is considering to package Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes and two first-round picks for Simmons, Harris and Matisse Thybulle. However, the source said the Sixers aren’t interested in that package.