Thursday Night NBA Recap
Vlade Divac is stepping down as general manager of the Sacramento Kings, the team announced on Friday. Joe Dumars will take over as interim executive vice president of basketball operations, and will be involved in the search process to replace Divac, who has run Sacramento’s front office since 2015. In addition to Divac, Kings assistant general manager Peja Stojakovic is also expected to step down, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Head coach Luke Walton, Divac’s former teammate with the Lakers, is reportedly safe.
His tenure leading the Kings has been nothing short of disastrous. Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006, but Divac’s tenure was marked with some of the worst mistakes any front office has made in recent history. Most notably, he passed on Luka Doncic to select Marvin Bagley, who, while promising, has underperformed expectations and dealt with injuries and a suspension so far. He fired Dave Joerger after last season despite Joerger taking the Kings to their best record in over a decade. Perhaps most damningly, he traded away multiple valuable draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers in order to create cap space to sign Monta Ellis, who ultimately chose the Indiana Pacers over them.
The Kings have flirted with front-office changes in the past. In 2017, they received permission to speak with Sam Hinkie (the man who engineered the draft pick heist with Philadelphia) about an undisclosed role, according to Marc Stein, but nothing came of it. They’ve hired a number of highly regarded executives for lesser roles, such as Ken Catanella, Scott Perry and Brandon Williams, but none were able to steer the franchise back towards contention with Divac’s hand on the wheel.
Dumars won a championship as the architect of the 2004 Detroit Pistons, but has not had control over a team since 2014. Amick reported Thursday that Dumars was gaining influence within the organization, which suggests that he will be a long-term candidate to take over the job in a full-time capacity. Owner Vivek Ranadive’s history in Silicon Valley also suggests that candidates with analytics backgrounds will also be considered. Given the struggles of the past 15 years, though, the Kings have nowhere to go but up.