From the moment Vivek Ranadive bought the Sacramento Kings two summers ago, it was clear that he was trying to bring a lot of what made the Golden State Warriors successful to Sacramento. It didn’t matter whether those Warrior tactics and principles fit this roster, that was Vivek’s vision, and everyone was going to follow suit.
They fired a head coach over what amounted to play style. If that doesn’t tell you how ‘set in their ways’ the old regime was, I don’t know what will.
The past has been dissected ad nauseam. I really have no desire to dive back in. At this point, everyone knows what happened.
Vlade Divac is in charge now, and while I don’t doubt Pete D’Alessandro still has a voice inside that front office, this feels like a George Karl – Vlade Divac operation.
This is an assumption on my part, but considering Divac’s general selflessness, and appreciation for good chemistry over all else, I think Divac is going to take a lot more advice from Karl about roster decisions than D’Alessandro ever did from Malone. This was a big frustration for Malone. D’Alessandro would shuffle his players around by the week, often dealing away the teams best defenders and capable veterans. I understand D’Alessandro’s need to transform this roster to his liking, especially during Malone’s first season as head coach, unfortunately, that first season is the only opportunity Malone ever had. He was in an impossible spot.
The Kings current ‘win now’ approach has a lot to do with why I’d expect a lot less player shuffling this season, but the mutual respect between Karl and Divac is also part of it. It’s a respect between a head coach and top basketball decision maker that we haven’t had in Sacramento since Ranadive bought the team.
Karl is going to be a huge part of what the Kings do this offseason. We are already seeing his stamp on who the Kings are targeting this summer. The two hottest Kings related rumors of the early offseason revolve around Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson. Those are Karl guys.
There is no longer a vision clash within the front office. This isn’t Ranadive forcing more conservative head coaches like Michael Malone and Tyrone Corbin to push the pace just for the sake of pushing it. This is an experienced head coach who’s had success pushing the pace with various roster types. He doesn’t need stretch fours or knockdown shooters to do it, either.
This isn’t meant as a knock on the Warriors, their style, or their roster. All I’m saying is that there are multiple ways to do something, and sometimes it’s better to figure how to do that with the players you have than to shuffle them around in a seemingly random order until you find something that works. I like the ‘lets make this system work for these players’ strategy a lot more. Karl has a track record of doing that.
A quick look at Karl’s last season in Denver should tell you everything you need to know about his style and versatility.
Karl won 57 games with one of the most traditional starting frontcourts in the NBA. Kenneth Faried and Kosta Koufos shot a combined zero three pointers that season. The Nuggets as a team ranked 25th in the league in three-point percentage, and finished the year with the 2nd fastest pace.
The fact that Karl started Kosta Koufos for all 81 games he appeared in speaks volumes to me. He’s also the same coach who resurrected Chris "Birdman" Andersen's career. This is a man that values defense and rim protection, and is willing to forgo offensive production in order to keep it in the lineup. Willie Cauley-Stein, anyone?
This doesn’t mean that the Kings shouldn’t add shooting just because Karl’s old Nuggets team didn’t need it, this means that if the Kings add shooting and that shooting doesn’t produce, which is something we’ve seen before, the season isn’t lost. Karl can mask weaknesses.
I like where the Kings are as an organization right now, and I haven’t been able to say that for a long time. I like who’s calling the shots, and I like the track record of those shot callers. I like the prospects expected to be available when the Kings select 6th on June 25th. I like the players the Kings have apparent interest in as we head into the offseason. They aren’t targeting Monta Ellis (yet) they are targeting defenders (Kosta Koufos) high character team leaders (Wesley Matthews) and players George Karl has ultimate familiarity with (Ty Lawson).
I can make sense, or at the very least spin some sense into every move, or every rumor the Kings have been involved in since the regular season ended. Maybe I’m forcing optimism on to myself, and this is my way of projecting that on to everyone else in order to make myself feel better about it, but things are trending in the right direction, aren't they? And they finally have the correct people in charge, right?