Jason Anderson: I asked Vlade Divac about The Athletic story tonight regarding his conference call with minority owners. “I just told them about my plan,” he said. The story says you told them to stop meddling and leaking stories. “Yeah, that’s my plan,” he said.
Does this success change your plan as we get closer to the (Feb. 7 trade) deadline? (Divac, clearly, wasn’t ready to move on to the next topic when there was another one-liner to be delivered) Vlade Divac: I didn’t have experience as a GM, so I didn’t know the salary cap and somehow we end up with $50-60 million (in cap room) this summer. I was lucky, I guess. (Laughs).
I hear you. But this season, I just wonder if it changes things. Are you still going to shop for a first-rounder? Is that a priority? Vlade Divac: No. Even that day when I made the deal with Philly for this (season’s) pick that’s coming (that they don’t have), 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).
But haven’t you guys been pushing for a pick the last couple months? Or no? Vlade Divac: Well, 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.
So does the organization need to pick sides and someone has to go? That’s not happening as of now. Williams was scouting college talent in Maui last week, not the action of someone on the way out. Nor is Joerger on his way out. Divac has no plans to fire Joerger and the coach has one more season left on his contract.
But with the latest developments it wouldn’t be a shock if Joerger has his eyes on another gig. He’d certainly be viewed sympathetically if the Kings continue to play well amid what is now perceived as a divided front office. Divac would love for all of this to pass and hope winning can be a cure. One of his greatest strengths as a player was his ability to be a unifier and after not making that happen with Karl, he has a chance to forge some harmony this season.
For the Sacramento Kings, the behind-the-scenes battle between coach Dave Joerger and assistant general manager Brandon Williams isn’t going away. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Joerger was uncomfortable with Williams' presence following practice Wednesday, and when the assistant GM showed up for the team’s shootaround Thursday, the Kings coach asked that he be removed from the floor.
According to sources, Williams and Joerger also were on separate pages when it came to free agent targets, which led to additional discord. Whether the relationship can be repaired is unknown, but at this point, there is clear distrust between the two men.
As The Athletic reported on Nov. 19, Joerger has long been of the belief that Kings assistant general manager Brandon Williams would like to replace him as coach and was, in essence, working against him internally. But that story, and the fact that it came at a time when the Kings were off to one of their best starts in more than a decade, have only made matters even worse.
According to sources, Joerger on Thursday asked that Williams not be present for the team’s shoot-around in advance of the Kings’ home game against the Clippers. Williams, who had returned from an extended stretch of travel on Wednesday that had helped avoid these sorts of conflicts, subsequently left the shoot-around with Divac as a result of Joerger’s request. Joerger, the sources say, believes that Williams was the source of the story and is upset with the organization for not levying any discipline against Williams.
In response to the Athletic story, Divac issued a statement on Thursday afternoon. “I have advised my front office and coaching staff to not focus on drama and rumors, but instead to focus on continuing to develop our young and exciting team,” Divac said in the statement. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”
What makes the Kings’ situation more complex is that the front office hasn’t been respected like others in recent years, with some blaming Vlade Divac, others blaming Vivek Ranadive or the influence of chief operating officer Matina Kolokotronis on multiple areas in the organization. From people I’ve talked to around the league, the only consistency has been that it’s been a mess dealing with Sacramento in the past and structure and stability were needed.
Jason Anderson: I've been holding back on this, but there is widespread speculation that @SacramentoKings assistant GM Brandon Williams was the primary source for the Yahoo Sports story suggesting Dave Joerger's job could be in jeopardy due to philosophical differences with the front office.
Jason Anderson: I want to stress that we don't have confirmation, but this has been rumored since the story broke Saturday night. Williams and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports were seen having a lengthy conversation during the Kings-Lakers game Nov. 10.
Jason Anderson: Safe to say there is disagreement within the organization over playing time and rotational decisions -- so that part of the story was true -- but I'll repeat what I said Saturday night: Firing Dave Joerger is not a consideration for the @SacramentoKings right now. Not even close.
That connection has been very important for the Serbian team as two important players are bound by the Kings at the moment – Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica. Djordjevic noted that Divac understands the situation as he also experienced the same problems during his career and has provided real help: “Huge! Divac is exceptionally positive towards us, he understands our obligations. There are a few more details to be taken care of regarding Bogdanovic but as far as Bjelica goes it’s done. Bogdanovic underwent a surgery at the end of the season, so we have to keep an eye, but Vlade is a man who remembers the problems he had while playing with NBA teams and he is exceptionally willing to help. We’ve been in touch for the past three or four nights talking about it. I’m so glad both of them are on his team because it will help them in their further careers”, Djordjevic told the Serbian press, per Basketballsphere.
Sitting courtside at the Thomas & Mack Center before the Kings’ Las Vegas Summer League game against the Suns, Divac told the Tribune that LaVine, 23, has star potential that justified the lucrative offer and that he wasn’t concerned about a torn ACL that limited LaVine to 47 games with the Timberwolves in 2016-17 and 24 with the Bulls last season. “Zach is a very talented kid,” Divac said. “He works hard. I see him as one of the future elite shooting guards in this league. Before the injury, he showed a lot of progression. Now I believe he’s back where he was.”
Divac, who had a front-row seat to watch his No. 2 pick, Marvin Bagley III, take on Suns No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, felt the high-flying LaVine would have been a natural fit with his roster. “We are trying to build a team that is exciting and up-tempo,” Divac said. “We have one of the fastest point guards in the league (in De’Aaron Fox). We are young, but we are making progress. From last year, we are definitely a better team. We need more pieces, of course, but we are going to be smart. We are not going to rush into something that we don’t feel comfortable with. We are going to stay put and try to help those guys develop.”
"We love it, we like to support and try to find a way we can help," said Kings general manager Vlade Divac. Divac also referenced center Willie Cauley-Stein, an artist who has designed hats for the Kings and has a clothing line. "We support that kind of stuff," Divac said. "Obviously we like them to know (basketball) is the priority but everything else, the talents they have, they can explore. Even the Kings Academy, we set that up for those things, so they can learn stuff during their career."
Marc J. Spears: The Kings have promoted Peja Stojakovic to assistant general manager. The former Kings star's role will now focus on player development, overseeing the G-League Stockton Kings and assisting with talent evaluation. The rest of the Kings' front office remains the same.
The Reno Bighorns have operated as a Sacramento minor league affiliate since their inception in 2008. They have been operated by the Kings since they purchased the club in 2016. “Our NBA G League team has been an incredible asset to help prepare players for NBA action and bringing the team closer to Sacramento will allow us to continue to build on that success and increase efficiency to this valuable development tool,” said Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “Kings fans in Stockton will now have an opportunity to see the next-generation of NBA players each week.”
Now, Temple, who is also a VP of the NBA Player’s Association, has a new platform. He was among those who pushed Ranadive to speak after the first protest. That night, along with Doug Christie and Vince Carter, he met with community activist Barry Accuis, the leader of the protest, after the game. In a hallway, they spoke for 45 minutes, discussing tangible next steps. Then, on Sunday, Temple helped spearhead the T-shirts, and worked on the PSA. He is well aware that, had he never made an NBA roster, his opinions wouldn’t carry this kind of weight. “It’s not right, but it’s life,” he says. “It’s just the way things are. That’s one of the things I talk to kids about. Not to think their words don’t mean anything right now, because they do. But if they aren’t being listened to or the things they want to see changed aren’t changing, then use that as motivation to continue to pursue whatever you’re passionate about so you can get a to a level where people have to listen. A lawyer, a doctor, an athlete obviously. The bigger the platform, the more people listen. That’s just the way the world works.”
Now though, sitting in a plush chair in the owner’s room, four flat screens shimmering behind him, he is hesitant to take credit, or to say anything of substance on the record. Over the course of 35 minutes, he takes great pains to praise “his folks” and “his team”, which include Kolokotronis and VP of Communications Joelle Terry, both of whom sit in on the interview and chime in at various points, speaking for Ranadive or declaring comments on or off the record. Pushed on what comes next, Ranadive says they are discussing ideas, but nothing specific is set. Asked if he sees this as an opportunity to speak out more forcefully, perhaps in the manner of Kerr and Popovich, Terry interjects to make a distinction. “They have a lot more interaction with the media,” she says.
Perhaps it is a learned caution (Ranadive has a history of putting his foot in his mouth). Regardless, he sticks to platitudes. “We just want to do the right thing Chris,” he says when I ask about concrete actions. “So many people have helped me along the way and so many people have stood up for me and given me opportunity and given me the benefit of the doubt, so there’s kind of a feeling that if you’re in a position to help and support somebody else, that’s right and fair and just.”
Steve Kyler: I continue to hear the Kings have eyes for Mario in free agency. I would imagine there are connections with Vlade and Peja.
Ailene Voisin: That's a good question, and, no, I did not. What is interesting, though, is that while Kings execs acknowledge a relief/lightness of being after the trade, they retain a fondness for Boogie and wish him well. But he had to go. He needed an Anthony Davis, can't be the lead singer. twitter.com/kingjv91/statu…
Jason Jones: Yes, Vlade Divac’s job as general manager is safe, especially since he’s signed through 2020. Granted, these things change daily, but there’s no reason to believe Divac has anything to worry about. It wouldn’t make sense to start another rebuild and change directions after less than a year. How long that holds true depends a lot on next season and if the organization would allow Divac to go into his final year without a deal beyond 2019-20.
The Kings fired scouting director and former assistant general manager Mike Bratz, who was previously an assistant coach in Sacramento under Rick Adelman and Eddie Jordan. "We agreed to part ways and appreciate all of his contributions to the Kings," the team said in a statement. "We wish him nothing but the best."
Sean Cunningham: In his many roles over the years, Mike Bratz, once a former Kings assistant coach, served as assistant general manager and most recently as Kings Dir. of Scouting and Sr. advisor to GM Vlade Divac.
Here’s the issue. The Kings brought in Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter during the offseason and still have Garrett Temple on the roster. These are respected vets who can play. These are vets brought in to help a young team, and according to sources, were brought in with the promise of a team aiming to be playoff competitive. But that promise was made to them by Scott Perry, who since left Sacramento and now makes personnel decisions for the New York Knicks. So the direction of the franchise has shifted since Perry left. An organization that brought in veterans aiming to win now is aiming to lose. Not surprisingly, Hill isn’t happy, according to multiple sources And the other veterans can’t be too happy, either. So the Kings have a mess on their hands. I’ve always liked Hill’s game, but when he signed in Sacramento, I questioned the prudence of the Kings bringing him on board when they just drafted De’Aaron Fox, the quicksilver point guard from Kentucky.
Randolph, who hired a chef to help him lose weight and eat healthier, wants to play a few more years, but admits to pondering the NBA afterlife. Player development, maybe. An NBA front office position, maybe. A job in Memphis is his preference, but if not, Sacramento would be fine.
The Sacramento Kings today hired Galen Duncan as Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, according to General Manager Vlade Divac. In his role with Sacramento, Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.
Brandon Williams, who has two children – Bailey, 13, and Remington, 5 – certainly liked what Divac was selling. He ranks No. 2 in the Kings hierarchy and controls day-to-day operations of a club he says “is farther along then the Sixers when I arrived. There are more pieces here.” In contrast to the 76ers, where he oversaw the G-League development affiliate, he will be used more extensively in contract negotiations, trades and the often-contentious discussions with agents.
During the ensuing nine years in the league office – and with strong backing from former Commissioner David Stern and his successor, Adam Silver – his career arc continued to ascend, with one promotion after another. “I had the benefit of working directly with Brandon,” Silver wrote in an email, “and know firsthand why his basketball acumen, experience and management skills are well regarded around the league. He’ll be a terrific addition to the Kings organization.” Among his many tasks with the league, Williams helped craft the “Respect the Game” policy that imposed a dress code and was instrumental in creation of the Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J. Somewhere in there, he also found time to get married, have a baby and graduate from Rutgers law school in 3 1/2 years.
The Sacramento Kings today hired Brandon D. Williams as Assistant General Manager, according to General Manager Vlade Divac. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Marc J. Spears: New Kings Asst GM Brandon Williams tells @TheUndefeated he's "really excited" about new gig and credits Scott Perry for helping open door.
Marc J. Spears: Kings have hired Sixers VP of Basketball Administration Brandon Williams as their new Assistant General Manager, source told @TheUndefeated.
James Ham: Confirming that the Sacramento Kings have hired Brandon Williams as an assistant GM. Marc Spears first.
Williams will report to Vlade Divac, who is charged with turning around the franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2006. The Kings traded All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins last season to signify a true rebuilding effort had begun.
Brad Turner: Otis Smith has withdrawn his name as consideration for VP of basketball operation with Sacramento Kings. per source.
Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise's vacant Vice President of Basketball Operations job, league sources told ESPN. The Kings are searching for a new No. 2 executive to report to general manager Vlade Divac.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Scott Perry has agreed to a five-year contract to become New York's general manager, league sources tell ESPN.
Tommy Beer: The Knicks now have the rights to just one second-round pick over the next four years (thru the 2021 NBA draft). twitter.com/TommyBeer/stat…
Jeff Zillgitt: This is the kind of job Scott Perry has sought for some time now. Helped Kings in short time and will try to do same with the Knicks. twitter.com/sam_amick/stat…
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Sacramento, New York still working out terms of financial compensation to clear way for Perry to take Knicks' GM job. twitter.com/wojespn/status…
David Aldridge: Deal between Kings VP Scott Perry & Knicks for vacant NY GM gig is not done but heading that way. Perry one of most respected execs in game.
Sam Amick: Kings are waiting on word of Scott Perry's future after granting him permission to speak with Knicks. Unclear if they'd seek compensation.
The Sacramento Kings granted the Knicks permission to meet with Perry, and the two sides sat down in New York on Thursday, league sources said. There is no agreement yet in place, according to league sources.
The Knicks are recruiting Perry with a promotion to the GM title, and Kings ownership has shown a willingness to allow Perry to leave for a more prominent title and dream job in New York, league sources said. Perry would report to Steve Mills, who will elevate to Knicks president, according to sources.
The two-time FIBA Basketball World Cup winner has called on players worldwide to support FIBA’s new competition calendar, describing it as ‘win-win for players, fans, national federations, leagues and clubs.’ “Representing your country is the ultimate honor and I know that many of you feel the same way. The new calendar means that, for the first time, they (players) will have one free summer in every four-year cycle, reducing the pressure and providing the time needed to rest and recover from an already arduous schedule. It is really important that the new global calendar will also create opportunities and help develop new talent by enabling younger players from more countries to play international basketball.”
Ben Standig: Otto Porter update: The Sacramento Kings contingent, including Vlade Divac, just left meeting at David Falk's office. #Wizards
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.”
September 25, 2022 | 7:41 pm EDT Update
Russell Westbrook was wearing a bucket hat, flip-flops and a smile inside the conference room in his Avenue of the Stars offices. Trade talks stalled, training camp on the cusp and Westbrook hardly had to consider the question: Do you feel wanted by the Los Angeles Lakers? “I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN recently. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
Westbrook spoke of getting back to work in the gym sooner in the past offseason than he has ever done in his career, about a summer full of conversations with Lakers coach Darvin Ham, about a “connection” and “trust” with Ham’s vision to utilize him in a way that impacts winning on these Lakers. Maybe that’s as a starter or maybe it’s off the bench. “I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
He sure isn’t here to tell you that his and the Lakers’ debacle of a season caused him to have to fight to keep his confidence. “No, I didn’t have to fight that,” Westbrook said. “I had to fight my response on how it affects the people close to me. To me, that was the important part. Confidence is not something I lack. Yes, there were times last season that I wanted to play better — that I should’ve played better — but my confidence never wavers. Having bad games is part of the NBA, and I understand that. The only thing it affected for me was the impact that it had on the people closest to me — my mom, dad, wife, brother, close friends. We’ve never had to deal with that as a family. That was the most difficult thing — being booed in the arena and having my kids there.”
Shams Charania: Sources: The Lakers plan to sign G/F Matt Ryan on a non-guaranteed deal. Four-year NBA veteran Dwayne Bacon is also working toward training camp deal with the Lakers. Ryan was with the Celtics on a two-way last season.