NBA Rumor: Kings Front Office

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Joe Dumars wanted more control over Kings front office

Joe Dumars’ contract was expiring, and I’m told he wanted more direct control over the front office if he was going to return. In Dumars’ desired structure, Monte McNair would have reported to him rather than Ranadivé. Ranadivé didn’t share an interest in that sort of setup, and now Dumars has opted for this prominent role with the league. Considering the bizarre way the Kings’ GM search unfolded nearly two years ago, when Dumars showed strong signs of wanting the job he would later play a pivotal part in filling, none of this should come as a surprise. A source with knowledge of the situation said it does not appear Dumars’ role will be filled.

Today, the Sacramento Kings announced plans to unveil a refurbished court, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, at Sacramento Central YMCA. This project is part of the NBA’s initiative to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the league by creating more than 50 new live, learn or play centers. The Sacramento Kings and Kaiser Permanente will celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the YMCA on Saturday, April 30.  “As we reflect on 75 years of the NBA, we celebrate the game’s positive impact on communities and its ability to bring people together,” said Sacramento Kings President of Business Operations John Rinehart. “We are thrilled to continue to partner with Kaiser Permanente to prioritize wellness and enhance Sacramento Central YMCA’s resources for our community.”

Vivek Ranadive pushed for Kings to draft Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic

The source said Vivek Ranadive and Brandon Williams were driving forces behind the decision to draft Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic in 2018, but there was consensus within the organization because Bagley was a “modern-day big who could run the floor with De’Aaron Fox.” The source said the Kings nearly acquired Jordan Clarkson from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade involving Yogi Ferrell, but they didn’t act fast enough due to Ranadive’s involvement. Instead, the Cavaliers traded Clarkson to the Utah Jazz, where he would become the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, in exchange for Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks.

Multiple sources told The Bee there is a sense that the dynamic has changed in Sacramento since the Kings hired current general manager Monte McNair to replace Divac in September 2020. One of the team’s minority owners said he believes McNair is calling the shots without interference. “I’ve looked people in the eye and said, ‘We know this has been a problem. Is it a problem today?’ They’re telling me it’s not,” he said. “Does Vivek have the right to approve trades or give his input? Yeah, but I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte. I believe Monte is in charge and has total control.”

Kings begin search for next head of basketball operations

The Sacramento Kings have formally begun their search for the next head of basketball operations. The Kings have requested permission to interview the following candidates, sources have told The Athletic: Timberwolves executive vice president Sachin Gupta, Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon, Nuggets GM Calvin Booth, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon, Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox.

The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006, the longest active streak in the NBA and one short of matching the Clippers franchise for most consecutive seasons missing the playoffs. Of course, this wasn’t just about the struggles on the court. Webber’s teammate, Vlade Divac resigned as general manager. Peja Stojakovic, another former teammate, resigned as assistant general manager. So it’s deeper than what most fans might feel about the situation. “They’re going to have to work hard,” Webber said. “It’s been frustrating to watch. I think everyone tried their best and I’m very happy that at least in the interim — Joe Dumars is a great leader and I think he’s consulting the team right now. So for me, as a Kings fan, it makes you feel a little bit better but you feel bad knowing that Vlade gave his all.”

Still, this is personal for Webber, whose No. 4 has been retired by the franchise. He is no ordinary fan. “Of course I played there and I was a big part of it so anything I say will be taken out of context so I don’t want to speak in any way that could,” Webber said. “I feel sorry for Vlade, they have the best fans, the city’s going to be resilient, they are going to make the playoffs, they are going to get in the right direction and I just wish the best for the organization. It’s kind of hard to be professional when you’re asking a question about an organization I care so much about, so I’ll shut up.”

Several sources across the league Tuesday believed there may have been a difference in mindsets among Kings officials and Dumars on the next course of action, with some wondering if the Kings weren’t setting themselves up for yet another power struggle just days after the one that led to Divac’s departure. But Kings sources insist that synergy in this process has been achieved. And despite so many questions about Dumars’ strategy here, with so many rival executives wondering if he was pushing to secure the top front office position rather than help fill it.

“My role as interim Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations is to immediately assume General Manager duties during this transition period and assist Vivek in developing a long-term strategy for the basketball operations department,” Dumars said in a written statement provided to The Bee. “As part of that process, I will support a thorough national search for a permanent General Manager over the coming months. The search will be run by an outside firm and Vivek will have the final decision-making authority.”

Divac’s phone rang on Friday and Kings primary owner Vivek Ranadivé told Divac that he was passing the management authority to former Detroit Pistons GM Joe Dumars. Divac knew his time was up. “It’s a part of life. You have to make tough decisions,” he said. “I didn’t expect it but then I wasn’t surprised either. We didn’t accomplish what we expected this season. That’s the bottom line…That’s my responsibility.” Divac said his immediate plan is to stay in Sacramento. He said he will always support the Kings. “I like this place,” he said. “Down the road who knows? But for some time I’m gonna be here.”

Starting this weekend, the Mavericks are in the NBA playoffs. The Kings are making news for another dismissal. Was this draft pick a major issue between him and Ranadivé? “Yeah,” Divac said. “That was my decision,” he said. “I still believe Marvin has big upside. But I needed more time to prove it. I’m sure Marvin is going to prove everybody wrong. But in this league, you need to produce right now. People don’t have patience but I’m OK with that.”

Divac’s inexperience with the inner workings of the general manager position would be problematic, with agents and opposing team executives complaining about having to deal with the Kings. Divac not adding to the front office was criticized throughout his tenure. Divac was determined to do things his way. The confusion, and what league executives saw as a sign of Divac’s inexperience, resulted in the Kings having a limited number of in-person draft workouts, even when picking in the lottery. Divac had not been an NBA executive and had assistant general manager Mike Bratz as his second in command.

A respected league executive said earlier Friday that Divac sealed his fate with a series of bad decisions over the past five years, pointing specifically to the decision pass on Luke Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft. “When you pass on generational players, you can’t win in this league,” he said. “You just can’t.” The source predicted Dumars would take on a larger role within the organization, saying “that would help, but they need to get somebody younger in there.”

The Sacramento Kings announced today that Vlade Divac has stepped down as General Manager. In the interim, Joe Dumars has been named Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and will immediately assume General Manager duties. “This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is the best path ahead as we work to build a winning team that our loyal fans deserve,” said Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “We are thankful for Vlade’s leadership, commitment and hard work both on and off the court. He will always be a part of our Kings family.”

Rival executives have highlighted the increased influence of Kings advisor Joe Dumars as a sign of trouble for Divac, as sources say he has become a valued voice for owner Vivek Ranadive after being added to their group in June of 2019. The two were together in Orlando to watch the early Kings’ action from the outside-the-bubble seats, but sources close to the situation insist there is synergy and trust between Divac and Dumars here. That being said, Dumars — who lives in Los Angeles — is expected to have an increased role going forward.

Divac and Walton are both in the first year of four-year contracts. Firing them now would mean paying them for three more years — and paying their replacements — something the organization would have been reluctant to do even before the coronavirus pandemic caused tens of millions of dollars in revenue losses. The Kings have underachieved this season, but ownership will want to see what Walton, their 10th coach in the past 14 seasons, can do with a healthy roster before changing course yet again. Divac will get at least one more season as well, although his ultimate fate might have been sealed when he passed on Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Kings keeping Luke Walton, Vlade Divac?

All that improvement, it appears, lowered the temperature on the hot seats of both Walton and general manager Vlade Divac. As we reported on Feb. 12, owner Vivek Ranadive had made his frustrations known with both the front office and coaching staff during the Kings’ 15-29 start. Questions arose about whether he might be compelled to make changes in the offseason, but sources say Divac and Walton appear very likely to remain (their contracts run through the 2022-23 season).

Kings keeping Divac, Walton for next season

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the pairing of head coach Luke Walton and Vlade Divac is likely to continue into the 2020-21 season, at a minimum. “Owner Vivek Ranadive had made his frustrations known with both the front office and coaching staff during the Kings’ 15-29 start,” Amick writes. “Questions arose about whether he might be compelled to make changes in the offseason, but sources say Divac and Walton appear very likely to remain (their contracts run through the 2022-23 season).”

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive not happy with front office, coaching

Frustration has been mounting among Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and others within the ownership group over the franchise’s front office and coaching, multiple sources tell The Athletic. Sources say Ranadive has shared his frustration with both front office and coaching decisions in a variety of unfiltered ways, including private conversations with business associates and in text messages during a season-long group chat with Divac, coach Luke Walton, assistant general manager Peja Stojakovic and Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis. The complaints, sources say, have been focused on the team’s underachievement and the part they all played in it.

Throughout the Kings’ pre-draft process in 2018, the Kings scouted Doncic heavily, including a dinner with the young prodigy led by Ranadive that also included Vivek’s son, Aneel, and Divac; the gathering was shared on Aneel’s social media. There was ownership support for the drafting of Doncic at No. 2 overall, but Divac, along with then-assistant general manager Brandon Williams and Stojakovic had concerns about his upside compared to Bagley’s, sources said. As The Athletic reported last month, the belief that Doncic’s ball-dominance would limit Fox’s ability to grow and that they were better suited pairing him with a talented big like Bagley were driving forces behind the decision.
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October 1, 2022 | 6:40 am EDT Update

Klay Thompson skipping both preseason games in Japan

 Klay Thompson will not play in either of the Golden State Warriors’ preseason games in Japan, coach Steve Kerr announced. Kerr said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution as the Warriors go through a condensed training camp. “Just feel more comfortable giving him a little more of a ramp up,” Kerr said ahead of the Warriors’ 96-87 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday. “He’s just not quite ready to play at this point just based on where, you know, we’re so early in camp. We just want to be safe and make sure he gets a good ramp up before he plays in games.”
“Just coming off the two years with the injuries, this is really unique to play a game after 3½ practices so we’re just being cautious and trying to do the smart thing,” Kerr said. Thompson was under a strict game restriction last season — starting under a minute restriction and never playing in back-to-back games — after missing two consecutive seasons with leg injuries.

Klay Thompson addresses 'mental block' during summer

Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson didn’t play pickup this summer. Called it a “mental block” he will eventually get over because of torn Achilles in summer ball. But that’s slowed his preseason ramp up. Called next week a “big week” as he revs back up for regular season. Here he is explaining it pic.twitter.com/0ZCCmWYFO1

LeBron James playing at least four preseason games?

James was asked after practice Friday how many preseason games he wants to participate in. “More than I played last year,” James said. “How many did I play last year? More than I played last year.” Last season, James played in three of the Lakers’ six preseason games. With a new coach in Darvin Ham, a new system and just six players returning from last season’s team, the plan for James playing preseason games is being worked out.
Ham said that they will “figure all of that out” in the coming days. “Obviously we have those type of things on our board and on our laundry list of things to get done,” Ham said. “But our focus has totally been on trying to establish a style of play on both sides of the ball, establish our principles and make sure we’re executing the basic foundation of who we are and what our identity will be. But definitely my coaching staff and I, we have had light discussions about what that’s going to look like, how many preseason games, how many minutes.”
Ham noted Nunn’s ability to score at all three levels, from three, to the mid-range, and at the rim, while praising his work defensively as well, showing that he can squeeze through pick and rolls, avoid screens and contest shots on the perimeter. It takes time for some players to learn how to play alongside a defensive magnet like LeBron, but that process has begun. “You deal with it by getting on the floor, getting in the game, logging minutes,” said LeBron. “You start to get more and more into the game, watching more and more film, more and more practices and it starts to come with time. I think that will continue to happen with the new guys we have this year.”
Cam Thomas had a promising rookie season in 2021-22, but his playing time evaporated when the Nets added Seth Curry and then Goran Dragic. If Thomas found minutes hard to come by down the stretch last season, he’s going to be facing an even more uphill climb to start his sophomore campaign. “We’ll see how it goes after training camp. But he clearly is on a veteran team with a lot of guys who can play, have had a lot of success,” Nets coach Steve Nash admitted. “We know Cam’s talented, and just trying to continue to develop him and see if he can keep pushing and getting better at certain things that’ll help him get minutes.