It’s safe to say that Vivek Ranadivé’s stewardship of the Sacramento Kings franchise has not gone as smoothly as some of us had hoped after he took over the team in the wake of the Maloofs trying to burn every bridge in town. While it should be noted that the business side of things appears to be going very well, from a great new local television deal and the opening of a new downtown arena, the basketball side has left much to be desired. The Kings have gone just 90-156 in Vivek’s four years as owner and are already on their second GM and fourth coach. Needless to say, fans haven’t been too pleased.
Vivek has been uncharacteristically quiet for the past year or so, especially after the fallout from the Michael Malone firing became clear. The bombast he showed in his first couple years appears to be reigned in a little bit, but Vivek did open up to USA Today’s Sam Amick in a lengthy two-part interview where they talked about pretty much every controversy his ownership has had to date. I will be highlighting a few things, but do yourself a favor and go ahead and read Part 1 and Part 2 as soon as you can.
Some of the notable things that Vivek revealed in this interview are a little hard to take at face value. For example, his assertion that he was all for Elfrid Payton and only appeared to be cheering so loudly for Stauskas on Grantland’s video because he wanted to show unity to the cameras seems a little revisionist.
Vivek was also very open about Michael Malone and Pete D’Alessandro although he alleged he was playing peacemaker between the two. In his own words:
I mean from Day One, the GM (Pete D’Alessandro, who now works with Malone in Denver as the Senior Vice President of Business and Team Operations) and him didn’t get along. They hated each other’s guts. They didn’t even want to share an assistant. Then later on, I found out that the GM had fired a guy who was part of the coaching staff and had sued us. (As Ranadive confirmed, he was referring to Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the former Kings assistant coach turned assistant general manager who left the organization in the 2014 offseason. According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, the Kings – under threat of a civil lawsuit for “hostile work environment” – paid the final two and a half years of Abdur-Rahim’s deal. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation).
“And in retrospect, when I was told about (the Abdur-Rahim exit), I was shocked at some of the things that had happened. But there was – they tried to fire (Malone) right from the get-go, and I was peacemaker. In fact, (team president) Chris (Granger) was in the office when I sat everybody down and I said, ‘Guys, this is – we’re all in one boat.’ My exact (message) was, ‘You can’t say there’s a hole in the other person’s side of the boat, because if there’s a hole in the boat we all sink.’…These two guys (Malone and D’Alessandro), they never spoke. They hated each other. They hated each other’s guts. It was like one person would say one thing, and then the other person would say another thing. And they wanted to get rid of him very early on, and I was the one who said ‘No, no, let’s make it work. Let’s make it work.’”
What doesn’t make sense to me here is if Vivek really wanted to “make it work” why fire Malone when he did, especially after the team had started out so well before Cousins’ fluke case of viral meningitis knocked him out for a few weeks? Vivek makes it seem like he was on Malone’s side here, but in reality, he ended up siding with D’Alessandro at the time, backing his decision up in the media, even proclaiming that the Kings were going to be better under Ty Corbin than they were under Malone. Claiming to also know nothing about the Shareef Abdur-Rahim situation (which we have heard for a while now was not an amicable or mutual parting and the revelation that he sued is no surprise) makes Vivek appear oblivious as well.
Ranadivé also addressed minority owner dissatisfaction by saying he hasn’t heard anything from any minority owner upset with the team, while also admitting that he doesn’t hang around the team as much as some minority owners who do live in the area (Vivek himself still lives in San Francisco).
Vivek’s clearly trying to show himself in a good light in this piece, and I think a lot of Kings fans want to see him that way, especially because of how big a part of saving this team he was. For that, we will always be grateful. But an owner can’t take credit for the good things and pawn off the blame to others when things go wrong, and so far, a lot has gone wrong. At some point, the buck has to stop with Vivek.
Sam has an addendum to his article that he shared via Twitter that is definitely worth checking out:
Kings addendum that needs to be noted: Vivek's characterization of those early days in Sac - the "ghost town" narrative - is just not fair.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 11, 2016
Geoff Petrie knew he was done, yet made sure front office helped w/ transition via scouting/sharing intel (w/ Wayne Cooper at his side)— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 11, 2016
Post ownership-transfer, Petrie even took a 3-day trip to Greece to scout Giannis Antetokounmpo (who he loved) & was preparing for the draft— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 11, 2016
As for then-coach Keith Smart, he was told very quickly (via phone) that he would be replaced. That part is what it is.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 11, 2016
As Smart made clear after the firing, he was bitterly disappointed at being let go (translation: wanted to be there) https://t.co/p69rnp0eDr— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 11, 2016
At some point, Vivek has to realize that simply saying “I messed up” is an acceptable response instead of trying to find excuses.