Yesterday, a report surfaced that the Kings were talking with former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie about an undisclosed front office role, perhaps even to replace current President of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac.
The Kings wasted no time in refuting the report with a short and simple statement:
“The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in above Vlade.”
It’s hard to take anything this team says at face value though, especially after the team was so publicly adamant they weren’t trading DeMarcus Cousins and then did it a few weeks later. Ranadivé has also been known to make big decisions at a moment’s notice, whether it’s firing Mike Malone or even hiring Vlade Divac to an undefined role and then making him Pete D’Alessandro’s boss a week later.
For what it’s worth, Adrian Wojnarowski doubled down with his own report even after the Kings released their statement. Wojnarowski states that Ranadivé has been interested in Hinkie for some time and is also looking for other candidates to potentially make Vlade a “figurehead” rather than the man in charge like he is now.
Hinkie’s own interest in the Kings is unknown at this point, but Woj does make the point that these jobs are rare, and even with Philadelphia’s recent success (and they’re still not a playoff ready team), Hinkie doesn’t have a ton of fans in the NBA. If you’ll remember, he was essentially forced out of Philadelphia because higher-ups in ownership and the NBA were tired of his tanking strategy.
But Hinkie’s name isn’t the only one being talked about. The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones tweeted this yesterday after reports surfaced:
Another name to remember: If the talk about bringing in another exec continues, you'll probably hear Jason Levien's name come up.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) March 28, 2017
If you’ll remember, Levien was a part of the Kings front office under Geoff Petrie, seemingly being groomed to replace him. However Petrie never retired and Levien left. He eventually ended up on a little team called the Memphis Grizzlies under Robert Pera’s ownership, running both business and basketball operations as CEO of the team. Levien was the one who hired John Hollinger as VP of Basketball Operations as well as some guy named Dave Joerger as their coach.
Levien was ousted by Pera in 2014 and since then hasn’t really been seen much in the basketball world as he’s been running the D.C. United MLS Franchise. He did however make an appearance at, wouldn’t you know it, a Kings game this very season.
Just saw former Kings VP Jason Levien leaving GC1. Smiled and said he was here "to check out the building." Says no talks about returning.— Ailene Voisin (@ailene_voisin) November 17, 2016
Jason Levien's visit tonight no coincidence. Suspect former Kings VP returns at some point as consultant or in some front office role.— Ailene Voisin (@ailene_voisin) November 17, 2016
The Kings can say what they want, but actions speak louder than words. You don’t receive permission from Philadelphia to talk to Sam Hinkie if you aren’t considering bringing him on board. There have been real questions about Vlade Divac’s handling of the team, particularly the Cousins trade and aftermath, both inside and outside the franchise.
Vlade’s tenure hasn’t been all bad, and his drafting has actually looked pretty good so far as well as additions of guys like Garrett Temple and Anthony Tolliver. But at times he’s appeared in over his head, and even if he doesn’t get replaced, it’d be good to have a more experienced hand at the wheel, especially as the team has signaled their intent to do a full rebuild. The Kings could use all the help they can get.