Vlade Divac was one of the most important players in Kings history. He was the biggest free agent signing and the glue guy that held together one of the best teams in the NBA. Now he’s trying to build a winner as the team’s manager.
Vlade’s taken his lumps as a GM, mainly due to his lack of any managerial experience. He’s made mistakes to be sure, and even he’d probably admit to that. But he’s also made bold calls, like trading DeMarcus Cousins. It was the right move for the Kings, even though the process and aftermath weren’t handled very well (I’m talking about the needless shots at Cousins’ character mainly).
Now Divac is fleshing out his staff in Sacramento, as we’ve seen the team hire Scott Perry and Luke Bornn last week (and Bornn is set to build a full analytics department this offseason). I’ve seen some suggest that this is perhaps a move by Vivek to undercut Vlade, but that does not seem to be the case. Vlade’s still in charge, and now he’s settling in for a big rebuilding project.
Ailene Voisin caught up with Divac recently to talk about his recent hires and I found this quote in particular interesting:
“I knew the staff I wanted to put together,” Divac said the other day. “There was always so much (drama) going on ever since I got here, it took up a lot of my time. Finally I have been able to find people who believe in what we are trying to do and who I am very comfortable with. I like our staff very much now, with Scott (Perry), Luke (Bornn), Ken (Catanella), Mike (Bratz), Peja (Stojakovic). We filled some holes.”
Much of that drama has to do with the Kings not being very good. At the end of the day, winning cures all ills. This summer will be crucially important, with multiple lottery picks and big potential cap space. The Kings can’t afford to screw up another rebuild. The good news is that there are promising signs. Every single one of Sacramento’s rookies last year showed some promise. Bogdan Bogdanovic is one of the best players in Europe and is almost certainly coming to Sacramento this summer. The Kings have gone from a team with few young assets to potentially having half the roster being on rookie deals next season.
But nothing is certain. In Sacramento, the only certainty for the last decade has been chaos. The hope is that stability is finally here, and these recent hirings are a step in the right direction. But we’ve been burned before, and as Greg noted, it’s a balancing act to be a fan of this team. I want Vlade to succeed, I want to believe he can build this team into a winner. But I’ll also believe it when I see it.
Let’s hope Vlade and co. are up for the challenge.