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Stojavokic, Jackson In, Dean Oliver Out? Kings' Front Office is Getting Another Makeover

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball Twitter is torching Sacramento again this morning, and for potentially, although unconfirmed, good reason. Let’s get those pesky ‘reports’ out of the way before we dive in, shall we?

First, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported last night that Peja Stojakovic has been offered a full time position in the Kings front office, but hasn’t accepted yet because of the impact moving from Greece to Sacramento would have on his family.

As a follow up to the Stein report, USA Today’s Sam Amick confirmed the Kings interest in Stojakovic, and reported that Vlade Divac is also trying to add former Kings guard and assistant coach Bobby Jackson to the front office.

Finally, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reported a whole lot of things you should probably hammer the Kings for, if accurate.

There is continued instability in the Kings front office.

High profile former ESPN analytics guru, Dean Oliver who was hand picked by owner Vivek Ranadive, as Director of Player Personnel, and Head of Analytics a season ago, and who has multiple years left on his contract with the Kings - was told by new Kings VP Vlade Divac not to attend NBA Summer League.

Oliver was in attendance anyway and was seen with King coaches. Oliver was not permitted to be there in his official capacity with the team.

Divac has told confidants that he is strongly opposed to the use of analytics in evaluating players, and has halted all communication with Oliver.

Ok. Now what?

There isn’t much I can add to the Peja Stojakovic, or Bobby Jackson reports. The Kings have been working with an understaffed front office all summer, and both Stojakovic and Jackson would give Divac an inexperienced, yet loyal voice in the front office. Jackson served as an assistant coach under Paul Westphal and Keith Smart in Sacramento before joining Rick Adelman’s staff in Minnesota. He spent last season as an analyst for CSN California.

Stojakovic is a bit of an unknown as a front office employee. We are, of course, familiar with him here in Sacramento, but trying to predict what kind of executive he’d be seems pointless. We know he has a great relationship with Divac. We know he was around the summer league team in Vegas, but that’s about it.

Neither Peja Stojakovic, nor Bobby Jackson have accepted offers to join the Kings front office just yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

The Sportando report is a lot more controversial.

I want to preface what I’m about to say by explaining that what I’m going to do is a little dangerous. We cannot ignore and downplay every single report that sheds a negative light on the situation in Sacramento. This franchise has been a mess for far too long, and while Divac seems to be stabilizing some aspects of it, they aren’t where they need to be.

With that being said, Sportando is essentially (according to reports!) calling Vlade Divac an idiot here. That is my spin. If a leading basketball decision maker isn’t using analytics on some level, they are going to fail.

I don’t care if Divac isn’t crunching the numbers himself. I don’t care if he doesn’t understand the math behind any of it. His involvement in the Kings’ analytics department isn’t necessary, but it’s necessary for the analytics department to have a voice in the front office.

"Divac has told confidants that he is strongly opposed to the use of analytics in evaluating players, and has halted all communications with Oliver"

You can dismiss your analytics guy (Oliver) without dismissing analytics, but ruling them out as having any purpose whatsoever is dumb. It’s idiotic. It’s damming. If this is Vlade Divac’s decree, the Kings are in trouble.

I don’t think it is, to be clear. I’m not buying the report as reported, personally, but I won’t hold it against you if you do. I can buy that Divac isn’t an analytics guy himself. I can buy that he favors the eye test over anything else, but I cannot buy that someone so open minded and level headed would take such a hard stance against something that can only help if used correctly. It’s doesn’t line up with how Divac conducts himself. It doesn’t line up with how this franchise has conducted itself since Vivek Ranadive purchased the team. It just doesn’t add up.

For what it’s worth, the Kings just gave Kosta Koufos, essentially a 5 point, 5 rebound per game player, over $8 million dollars per year. I wouldn’t use that as a way to prove that Vlade Divac is an analytics wiz, but there is some analytic based nuance to Koufos’ game. He gives you more than the naked eye would see. Maybe it’s a worthwhile mention, maybe it isn’t, just thought I’d pass it along.

Whatever did or did not happen with Dean Oliver is almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I like Dean Oliver. I wanted him on board. The facts of his potential exit will come out eventually, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it when they do. This is about Vlade Divac and his opposition of analytics more than anything else, and I hope I don’t come off as a complete Kool-Aid drinker by not blindly believing this report word-for-word, but I’m certainly not going to write something if I don’t believe it, and I’ll politely choose to wait for a few more sources on this one.

I'm sure we'll have more on this story as it develops.

Update: 1:52 PM PT

As expected, Carmichael Dave essentially demolished the controversial portion of Sportando’s report, and also confirmed that Dean Oliver is no longer with the team.