It's time once again for our annual series "30Q" in which we answer 30 questions over the course of September as we get ready for the upcoming season.
Ask a Kings fan about Vivek Ranadive in 2013. He was synonymous with hope, innovation, and passion. He was Sacramento’s deliverance from all things Maloof. And now? Ask again in 2016, and they will tell you about confusion. About meddling. About his wacky, flashy ideas that lack substance.
It has been a steep learning curve, a titanic fall from savior to laughingstock.
Vivek burst onto the scene with a handful of big ideas for the NBA. And he couldn’t resist pushing each one publicly. It was always Vivek talking about NBA 3.0. It was Vivek talking about positionless basketball. It was Vivek who talked about the next “phase” of rebuilding the Kings after Mike Malone was fired, touting the need to move from a “rules-based organization to a values-based one”. And who could forget the cringeworthy Grantland video going behind the scenes in the Kings war room during the 2014 draft?
Vivek loved the spotlight, and unfortunately he got it, packed with heightened scrutiny. Every decision came under fire, from the failed Pete D’Alessandro/Michael Malone dynamic, to his rumored pitch of playing 4-on-5 on defense with a cherrypicker. Even worse, Vivek often turned himself into a sideshow, inviting celebrities like Kelsey Grammar and Drake courtside, even inviting the latter into the locker room right after DeMarcus Cousins’ profanity-laced tirade against George Karl earlier this season.
It all culminated this season, with the Kings reportedly going back-and-forth behind the scenes on whether to fire or keep Karl as the coach. The Kings ended up keeping Karl for the rest of the season, but there was significant rumors of ownership turmoil behind the scenes.
And then... silence. As prominent as Vivek has been in the public life of the franchise, he has been just as quiet following the firing of Karl. He was absent during Dave Joerger’s introductory press conference. In stark contrast to the Nik Stauskas post-draft media conference, Vivek was not available for questions at this year’s post-draft conference. Unlike last summer, Vivek is not talking to the media, letting Joerger and Vlade Divac handle basketball talk, and Chris Granger handle arena talk.
Its only been a few months of the new hushed Vivek Ranadive, but it is a welcome change. The Kings are not a stable franchise by any measure, and getting there will take time. Divac and Joerger may not be the right men for the job, but they are basketball minds with a solid staff supporting them. They need to be empowered to make basketball decisions, and to do so without any unnecessary publicity stunts from ownership. This summer has been a solid start from Vivek, and the hope is that he stays in his new low-profile lane.
Joerger has been quoted numerous times about the need for the “cement to dry” here in Sacramento. That can only happen if Vivek fights his natural inclination to poke at the concrete and see what happens.