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Is Vlade worse than Pete D’Alessandro?

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Reviewing and rating the past moves of both GMs.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After years of justifiably spewing vitriol towards our former GM, Kings fans should realize that Pete D’Alessandro may have actually been better at his job than our beloved Vlade Divac. While Pete was sneaky, took things personally, and broke Kings fans hearts multiple times, this current front office is doing many of the same things, with less of a coherent plan.

There is a lot of emotional baggage attached to each General Manager of the Kings. Petey D. is known for foolishly firing Mike Malone and giving away future All-Star, and fan favorite, Isaiah Thomas while Vlade has been remembered for his stellar play in Sacramento and his goofy, yet honest personality. Because of the wildly different perceptions of the two men, Divac has not been beholden to the same standards as any other member of management.

In this assessment, I’m assigning blame to either Pete D’Alessandro or Vlade Divac and completely ignoring ownership. Both men have worked under the impossible to please Vivek Ranadive, so his inability to remove himself from basketball operations has the same bearing on any ineffective moves.

Draft Picks

Pete Vlade
Pete Vlade
2013 Draft: Ben McLemore (7) 2015 Draft: Willie Cauley-Stein (6)
2013 Draft: Ray McCallum (36) 2016 Draft: Georgios Papagiannis (13)
2014 Draft: Nik Stauskas (8) 2016 Draft: Malachi Richardson (22)
2016 Draft: Skal Labissiere (28)
2016 Draft: (Isaiah Cousins (59)

Vlade Divac handily wins the battle of the draft. Both Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas are on the verge of being labeled busts, while Ray McCallum has struggled to find a place in the league. Clearly, Pete’s talent evaluation skills were sub-par at best. On the other hand, Willie Cauley-Stein has proven himself to be an NBA player and Malachi Richardson looks like he’s on his way as well. Georgios Papagiannis may appear to be an errant pick at this point, but seemingly every player is struggling from the 2016 draft. Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Cousins are major projects as well, but overall, Vlade has been more impressive in his selections than Pete D’Alessandro was.

Trades

I won’t be including every trade or signing as Pete loved to make little moves constantly, but anything impactful will be included.

Major Moves

Out In Result Out In Result
Out In Result Out In Result
Tyreke Evans Greivis Vasquez Meh Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson 2016 Pick Swap, 2017 Pick Swap, 2019 unprotected first round pick Arturas Gudaitis, Luka Mitrovic Franchise-Altering
Luc Mbah a Moute Derrick Williams Meh Ray McCallum 2016 Second Rounder Meh
Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy, Arron Gray Great Marco Belinelli 2016 #22 overall pick Good
Isaiah Thomas Alex Oriakhi Franchise-Altering Marquese Chriss Bogdan Bogdanovic, #13 overall pick, #28 overall pick TBD, Probably Good
Ramon Sessions Andre Miller Good DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, 2017 NOP first rounder (top 3 protected), 2017 PHI 2nd rounder Franchise-Altering

Pete had one truly unforgivable trade. Swapping Isaiah Thomas for Alex Oriakhi was a petty, personally-driven move that set the team back several years. Everyone knows by now that Isaiah Thomas was Mike Malone’s guy and D’Alessandro wanted to undercut Malone wherever possible. At the time, Thomas was a 20 PPG scorer, and while not the player he is now, his potential was obvious. A combination of the deadly scoring of the original “Pizza Guy”, smooth play of Rudy Gay, and post-dominance of DeMarcus Cousins would almost certainly be a playoff team this year. Outside of that disaster, our former GM made a savvy move when he traded for Rudy Gay, and a solid acquisition in Andre Miller, while the rest of the deals were pretty average.

Meanwhile, Vlade Divac has managed to completely limit the future of this franchise, both for tanking purposes and any attempts to win basketball games. The Philadelphia trade was a complete disaster, not only for the pieces that were surrendered, but also for the fact that Vlade didn’t know (or didn’t care) that he could use the stretch provision to gain the same results, while saving the Kings two pick swaps and an unprotected first rounder.

The Sam Hinkie smackdown wasn’t only an embarrassing exchange, but it also negatively impacted the front office’s recent major change. Trading away your franchise player is a move that typically signals a rebuild, but Sacramento is now limited in their options with the 2017 pick swap implications and the 2019 first rounder headed out the door.

The decision to move on from DeMarcus Cousins is a understandable one if ownership and management were unsure if it would be prudent to give Boogie a $200 million extension. As so many have reiterated over the past couple of days, trading Boogie wasn’t the problem. The issue is that you only got Buddy Hield, a protected first round pick, two role players, and a second rounder out of the most skilled player to ever don a Kings uniform.

Unfortunately, the mistakes not only lie in the trade in and of itself, but the lack of further movement at the trade deadline. It was widely reported that the front office was demanding a first round pick in exchange for the solid, but expiring services of Darren Collison. Clearly, the Kings never dropped their asking price as not a single veteran player was dealt before time expired.

Now, Dave Joerger is stuck with an awkward squad made up of seven shooting guards, with an odd combination of expiring veteran players and young guys. Coach is a guy that’s going to want to compete every night, so now he’s stuck between upsetting his experienced players by benching them, or sacrificing the development of guys like Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield, as well as our pick position, to win a few extra games.

On the positive side of things, the 2016 draft night was Divac’s best night as the Kings GM. He smartly swapped an under performing and disappointing Marco Belinelli for the #22 overall pick, and traded down to gain another selection and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Pete and Vlade both made horrific, franchise-altering trades. Divac’s was worse from an asset management standpoint, while D’Alessandro’s was completely unnecessary. Our current GM also exacerbated his poor decisions with incompatible moves and a lack of commitment to a full rebuild. Isaiah Thomas was more beloved, and traded for less, but giving away a 2016 pick swap, 2017 pick swap, a 2019 unprotected first round pick, DeMarcus Cousins, and Omri Casspi in exchange for Buddy Hield, a protected 2017 first round pick, a 2017 second round pick, and spare parts will be much worse in the long run.

Free Agent Signings

Once again, I haven’t included every D-League signing or 10-Day Contract.

Acquisitions

Pete Vlade
Pete Vlade
Rudy Gay opted into contract Signed Rajon Rondo
Signed Darren Collison Signed Omri Casspi
Signed Eric Moreland Signed, voided, paid Luc Mbah a Moute
Signed Sim Bhullar Signed James Anderson
Signed Omri Casspi Signed Caron Butler
Signed Ryan Hollins Signed Duje Dukan
Signed Ramon Sessions Signed Seth Curry
Extended Rudy Gay Signed Quincy Acy
Signed Matt Barnes
Signed Arron Afflalo
Signed Garrett Temple
Signed Anthony Tolliver
Signed Ty Lawson

Overall, both GMs have done a below average job. Pete getting Rudy to opt into his contract and then extending him later on was great for the Kings. Guys like Ramon Sessions, Eric Moreland, and Sim Bhullar were given end of the bench contracts while Darren Collison and Omri Casspi were both valuable signings.

Vlade had some major mistakes with Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, James Anderson, and Matt Barnes, but Garrett Temple, Omri Casspi, and Ty Lawson have all been good.

I don’t see a ton of separation between the two managers.

Coaching Hires and Fires

Firing Mike Malone and trading Isaiah Thomas are the understandable black marks on Pete D’Alessandro’s time as the Kings GM. The abrupt departure of DeMarcus Cousins’ favorite coach probably set the franchise back a year or two as neither Ty Corbin nor George Karl were the right fit for the complicated star. There is an alternate timeline in which Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins, and Rudy Gay lead the Kings to the playoffs behind a defensive-focused squad coached by Mike Malone.

While Vlade has the best coaching hire, he also botched the George Karl firing about as badly as one can. He told players and their agents that Karl would be let go at the 2015 All-Star break, but reneged on that promise and kept the future Hall of Famer through the end of the season which caused chaos to reign for several months in the locker room. This past summer, Vlade got lucky that Dave Joerger essentially fell into his lap and made the right decision to hire the former Grizzlies leader.

Recap

What can I say? Both are/were terrible at their respective jobs. Pete managed to isolate Mike Malone and get him fired while trading away Isaiah Thomas for a steaming pile of crap. Vlade made two terrible, completely contradictory trades with Philly and New Orleans, while managing to further handicap the franchise by not following through on a true rebuild. Pete D’Alessandro was awful in his own right, but based on the non-emotional evidence above, our beloved Divac has been at least as bad, and possibly worse than our former GM and he should be help accountable for his lack of knowledge, direction, and performance.

Addendum to last night’s win.

Last night was probably the most fun I’ve ever had writing a recap. To see the young guys carry the team for an entire 48 minutes was exciting, encouraging, and thoroughly entertaining. But, just as the Kings brass should be criticized for overreacting to one win over Boston without Boogie, I cannot change my position based off of one fun win over the worst defense in the league. The past two years have done more to prove Vlade’s (in)abilities than one game. I hope I eat my words. I hope Vlade shows us that he actually knows what he’s doing. Heck, I hope the growth of Buddy, Willie, Skal, and the other young fellas leads us to an unlikely playoff run - screw the pick. However, to this point, Divac has still done more damage to the future of this franchise than should be acceptable to fans and ownership alike.