Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé has failed us. He was the face of the group that saved the Kings from relocating to Seattle, and I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that. I’ll also always be grateful for the amazing new arena downtown. But those two rights can’t make up for how badly Vivek’s meddling has screwed this franchise.
Let’s be clear: Vivek Ranadivé belongs nowhere near basketball operations for an NBA franchise.
From the outset of his tenure, Vivek has shown that whatever intelligence he has in the technology world doesn’t translate to running a basketball team. Since taking over the team, Vivek has hired a coach before his GM twice. Both times ended in disaster. Vivek has repeatedly made an ass of himself in both public statements and leaked private conversations.
Vivek told anyone who would listen that the Kings would win more games with Tyrone Corbin than with Michael Malone. Vivek thought the Kings should experiment with playing 4-on-5 defense. Vivek pushed the Kings to draft Nik Stauskas. And, most importantly, Vivek loved DeMarcus Cousins and refused to listen to offers until he suddenly decided the Kings should take a crap sandwich in return for a franchise player.
There have been many offers over the years that were better than what the Kings received from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Kings rejected them all because there was a clear directive from above. So what changed?
According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical:
Kings general manager Vlade Divac publicly pledged his allegiance to Cousins earlier this month, but internally, nobody believed him. The full-court press of Ranadive began before the season, league sources told The Vertical, and it was unrelenting. Only after a pair of recent incidents — an expletive-filled remark after a Feb. 6 win over Golden State and a 17th technical foul, and a resulting one-game suspension, on Feb. 12 — did Ranadive start to soften his stance on Cousins, only after repeated acts of immaturity did Ranadive start to rethink binding the franchise to Cousins.
Ah. That’s it. The straw that broke the camel’s back was playfully shouting expletives at Warriors fans. Vivek Ranadivé wants to be the Warriors. He was a minority owner with the Warriors before becoming the lead owner for the Kings. It’s been well-documented that he’s obsessed with being like the Warriors. So it makes perfect sense that yelling “f*** Golden State” would swing Vivek’s opinion.
The Kings could have traded DeMarcus Cousins long ago. Perhaps they should have. But the fact of the matter is that the Kings have failed spectacularly at asset management. The Philadelphia trade was questionable even if the Kings continued to build around Cousins, but it’s an unmitigated disaster when you decide to bottom out 18 months after mortgaging your future. And we know, thanks to many, many reports over the years, that this was far from the best offer the Kings have gotten for Cousins. It might have been the best offer available this week, but that doesn’t mean the Kings managed their assets well. And despite what Grant Napear might say, the return in the trade does actually matter. The Sacramento Kings aren’t going to improve simply because they remove DeMarcus Cousins from the equation. The Kings aren’t going to suddenly be good because they beat the Boston Celtics without DeMarcus.
No, DeMarcus Cousins was simply the embodiment of the Kings and their issues. DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t changed. He hasn’t been worse this season than any season before. The only thing that changed was the whims of a man who insists he doesn’t interfere with basketball decisions despite his fingerprints of failure being painted across the roster.
The failures of this franchise start much higher. And there’s no end in sight.