The Sacramento Kings announced via press release the official hiring of Peja Stojakovic as Director of Player Personnel and Development, and General Manager of the Reno Bighorns. In that release, Roland Beech was given the title of Vice President of Basketball Strategy and Data Science, Vlade Divac was re-assigned as Vice President of Basketball Operations, and General Manager, while Interim General Manager Mike Bratz was relegated back to Assistant General Manager.
If there was any prior doubt, this is Vlade Divac’s operation, and now he has the ‘General Manager’ title in case teams were still perplexed as to who is actually running the Sacramento Kings. Bratz, Stojakovic, and Beech round out the new front office, and it’s an interesting crew, to say the least.
Everyone loves Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. Everything we’ve seen out of Mike Bratz suggests that he’s a good guy and a solid basketball mind. We don’t know Roland Beech as much as the others, but he chose Sacramento over staying with the Dallas Mavericks as Vice President of Basketball Operations, that has to say something about his ability as a front office executive, and even more about his confidence in the Kings organization moving forward. He had a great position in a very good organization and actually decided to join Vlade Divac’s team despite his inexperience and the ‘dysfunction’ narrative. That is a vote of confidence on some level, I think.
Here is the kicker, when Vlade Divac was hired and the Pete D’Alessandro, Chris Mullin regime was given the boot, most of us, myself included, acknowledged Divac’s inexperience, but assumed he’d bring in experienced guys who could and would show him the ropes all while cleaning up the cap work and CBA nonsense. One of the reasons I wouldn’t have had a major issue with D’Alessandro staying on board at the time was because of his reputation as a salary cap guru, and with that being one of Divac’s weaknesses due to inexperience, I saw a scenario where that pairing could work. Obviously, I was wrong.
I’m struggling, admittedly. I feel as though I can’t assume the Kings would add experienced front office executives to Divac’s crew, and then not at least express some concern when they don’t follow up on that assumption.
On a similar note, when the Peja Stojakovic rumors started during summer league, I, again (wrongfully) assumed Divac would hire Stojakovic as a scout of some kind, or as an advisor, etc. I was legitimately surprised when the Kings named him Director of Player Personnel and Development, and also handed him the Reno Bighorns. It’s worth noting that sometimes titles can’t be taken at face value, but that seems like a lot of responsibilities to give someone without any front office experience.
Former Brooklyn Nets’ Assistant General Manager and basketball twitter must-follow Bobby Marks tweeted that both Chris Gilbert (bighorns assistant GM) and Rishabh Desai (Director of Player Personal with Reno, among other analytic based front office positions) are no longer with the organization, so along with Stojakovic, the Bighorns will be getting some kind of a makeover.
Unless Roland Beech is being asked to do everything we thought the Kings needed to add when Divac was placed in charge, this is still a very inexperienced front office. I don’t know if I’m concerned, but I felt compelled to admit that the Kings haven’t exactly done what I had thought they would. Maybe it will be an issue, maybe it won’t.
You’d like to think that between Bratz and Beech, the Kings have enough NBA front office experience to do what needs to be done, but again, it’s hard to feel like the Kings are exactly where they wanted to be when they seemingly struck out on some of their higher valued targets, depending on what reports you believe. They talked to Ryan West. They talked to Bobby Marks. Considering they gave Bratz the interim GM title before handing it to Divac officially suggests some weird shuffling that they thought would take place but didn’t. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an assistant GM get hired as the interim GM by the guy who would become the future GM. It could have been as simple as Divac deciding he could handle those duties after he led the Kings through a rocky free agency period, but something happened there.
Inexperience doesn’t equal failure. I’ve praised Divac’s leadership more times than I could possibly count. I like what he’s done with this roster, and how he’s been able to deflate the tension between Cousins and Karl, for now, is miraculous. If there is another human being on this planet who could have done that, I don’t know who it is. There hasn't been any evidence to suggest that inexperience has been an issue yet. That doesn't mean it won't be moving forward, but it's worth mentioning that my concerns thus far haven't been validated.
Divac, Bratz, Beech, and Stojakovic. This is your front office. I’d be lying if I said it’s what I expected, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wanted someone like Marks, or West on board, but this is what we've got. Good luck.